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Residents team up for a ‘souper’ collection in Malverne


Residents roamed the streets of Malverne last Saturday, going door to door with carts and wagons to collect nonperishable food for Our Lady of Lourdes Church’s annual Souper Scavenger Hunt.

Groups met at the church, signed up to take part and formed teams before taking to the streets for this year’s village-wide hunt. Children knocked on doors and collected canned goods throughout the afternoon, and engaged in a friendly competition to score extra points for gathering tuna, peanut butter and canned fruits, among other items.

“Seeing my boys run from door to door, you’d think it was Christmas, as if they had a present waiting for them,” said Lourdes parent Hope Orfano. “It’s just a bag of cans, but they’re so happy, and it can’t be more fun than when they’re watching the collections being weighed.”

The scavenger hunt helps to replenish OLL’s food pantry for people in need. More than 16,000 pounds of nonperishables were collected at this year’s event. Orfano, whose family has participated for the past five years, said that the hunt is an “easy win” for everyone.

“The beauty of this event is that anybody can do this,” said Orfano, a member of the team Super O.K.K.’s. “This event is wonderful, but I hope this helps to inspire people to donate and help all the time, and to learn how easy it is to give back. Being out and feeling like we’re accomplishing something is a feeling that is important to grab on to, especially in times like this.”

Last year’s scavenger hunt was postponed until June because of the coronavirus pandemic. The church held an alternative food drive last March to support families during the lockdown.

“I think that people are aware of the fact that the needs are greater at this time,” OLL coordinator Linda Baldacchino said, “and there’s been so many people that have rallied together.”

Groups like Boy Scout Troop 24 take part in the event to reinforce their values while encouraging others to get involved. Scoutmaster Joe Somma said the scouts helped organize the collection at the church while hitting the streets to gather donations as well.

“We try to do these events as much as possible, because obviously it’s an important part of what scouting is about,” Somma said. “As scout leaders, we try to give the boys new experiences, memories and helping to build friendship within the troop. But I think helping out our community and helping out others is probably one of the most important things that the boys can learn through being in scouting.”

The scavenger hunt, Somma added, is one several events in which scouts can earn a merit badge for community citizenship. He said he hoped that taking part gave them a sense of accomplishment.

“The troop has done really well during Covid,” he said. “Our roster is the highest it’s been in years, and I’m really proud of the boys that really stuck it out and stayed focused through everything that we’ve been through.”