First Posted: 2/7/2009
In the Explorers program with the Mount Airy Police and Fire departments girls and boys, ages 14 to 20, learn just how the officers and firefighters work to keep the community safe.
Saturday, that same mission was kept up with the added benefit of helping the Boy Scouts of America tackle the problem of hunger in the community.
About seven explorers, three with MAPD and four with MAFD, rallied together to distribute plastic grocery bags for food drive donations to area homes throughout the city to make it easy for people to donate food.
After people fill the plastic grocery bags with food, the Explorers and Scouts in the county will pick them up Feb. 14 at 9 a.m., and will later distribute them to area food pantries.
The effort is known as Scouting for Food and is a stewardship project carried out by Boy Scouts, Venturers and Cub Scouts throughout the community.
The bags are a way to help fill up the food banks, said Ray Arnder, a police officer and troop leader for Post 522. Its a way for them to help the community.
Participating in the Scouting for Food drive is one of the several opportunities that the teens have as participants in the Explorers program.
Fire Chief Benny Brannock, who leads Post 510, said it allows them to learn about law enforcement and fire fighting, which ever one draws their interest the more. They often do job shadowing and ride along in fire trucks and police cruisers on assignments.
Tommy Tate, 17, said he became interested in Explorers because he thought it was an effective way to learn how to promote safety in the community.
Im hoping to get a job with the city so I can be on patrol, he said.
Andrew Goins, 19, echoed his friends comments.
If I live in Mount Airy, Id like it to be safe, he said, adding his relatives careers in law enforcement influenced him. Most of my family members are involved with law enforcement it just runs in the family.
For Ignacio Martinez, being a part of the Explorers program touches closer to home.
The 19-year-old said that his mother had domestic violence issues with his stepfather and didnt think it was safe to turn to the police.
Ignacio, who is Hispanic, said he thinks the language barrier with native Spanish speakers can create confusion for Hispanics who are unfamiliar with the local law enforcement.
I think that they dont realize theyre here to help the community, he said. Hispanics will sometimes avoid the police, because they dont speak English well.
He said through the Explorers program, he believes he can make a difference in his own community by helping to educate people on what law enforcement is here to do for the community.
If you do the right thing as a citizen then youre fine, said Martinez, who is studying business law and accounting at Surry Community College. Its when you get in trouble you should worry, he said. I tell other (Hispanics) that I am in Explorers so they know what it is I do.
Arnder said whatever the reasons the young men get involved, its a positive activity that benefits them, even when they age out of the program.
Theyre a great bunch of guys working with us, he said. They can still help us as post advisors, because its like theyve been there, done that, and they can take on that advisory role.
For information about joining the program, call Arnder at 786-3535 or Brannock at 786-3570.
Contact Erin C. Perkins at [email protected] or 719-1952.