Boy Scout "Christmas Convoy" provides hurricane relief
TRENTON | 29,000 Boy Scouts from six states, including East Carolina Council based in Kinston, NC, collected more than 35,000 items for families in five counties devastated by Hurricane Florence. Boy Scouts collected and donated 22,442 school library books, 2,261 Christmas presents, 8,925 school supplies, 200 cases of copier paper, and 1,437 pairs of socks and underwear.
According to Doug Brown, Scout Executive for the East Carolina Council, “It is so exciting to me to see how Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts across the country responded to the needs in our area. We say that ‘Scouts do things that matter’, and this is a perfect demonstration of that message. The skills, values and leadership training that are at the heart of the Boy Scouts of America have all come together to help those most affected by the hurricane.”
The list of needs was developed in coordination with school districts, county management, United Ways, and other agencies. Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts in Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and North Carolina collected items for thirty days. Even 90 days after the hurricane, the needs are tremendous. The Boy Scouts of America wanted to help families and children return to a sense of normalcy.
On Saturday, December 15, just in time for Christmas, all 35,265 items were distributed at the Salvation Army in Morehead City, New Life Church in New Bern, Kinston High School in Kinston, Christmas Cheer in Jacksonville, and Jones County Civic Center in Trenton.
In Jones County, families with a FEMA or insurance documentation showing home damage and Jones County residency could select whatever items they needed. 421 Jones County residents took advantage of the opportunity. The Boy Scouts provided over 1,300 Christmas presents and 2,100 school supplies for families in Jones County. Lutheran Services of Carolina was also present and distributed sets of children’s pajamas, hygiene items and bread. One resident looking for Christmas gifts told Brown, “I can’t thank the Boy Scouts enough. I thought everyone had forgotten about us.”
Jones County Schools lost 5,000 library books when both Trenton Elementary School and Jones County Middle School were flooded with two feet of water for twelve days. Both schools were permanently closed. When told the Boy Scouts collected and were donating 8,900 replacement library books and 40 cases of copier paper, Superintendent Dr. Michael Bracy paused. After he regained his composure he replied, “This is such as blessing!”
At Christmas Cheer in Jacksonville, 35 Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts helped sort five pallets of Christmas presents, school supplies, and books into bins and boxes for boys and girls of different age groups. Theo McClammy, Executive Director of Onslow Community Outreach which runs Christmas Cheer, said, “All the Christmas presents will be distributed. There is a greater need this year with families still recovering from the hurricane.” Onslow County Schools was the recipient of nearly 3,000 school and classroom library books from the Boy Scouts to replace those destroyed during the hurricane. Ross Friebel, Director of Digital Learning & Teaching Services for Onslow County Schools, “This is tremendous!”
Boy Scouts contributed 434 presents and several cases of school supplies and children’s books to the Toy Drive conducted by New Life Church in New Bern. One mother walking out with a box full of Christmas presents said, “You tell whoever helped with this – the Boy Scouts, UPS, and everybody – that my two boys will now have a wonderful Christmas. If it weren’t for this, we would have no Christmas. You all are such a blessing.” New Life Church Pastor Scott Coghill said the multi-state project by the Boy Scouts, “This is such an answer to prayers. There are still so many people in the area who need help. This is super!” Local Scouts are distributing forty cases of copier paper to Craven County schools before Christmas.
Lenoir County Schools was the recipient of 3,034 books for their elementary and middle school libraries and twenty cases of copier paper. Two dozen Scouts sorted those books into categories to assist the school district with distribution. “This is just wonderful!” said Frances Herring, Assistant Superintendent of Lenoir County Schools.
At the Salvation Army in Morehead City, Boy Scouts distributed four hundred presents, three hundred pairs of socks and underwear, and over 3,000 books. Major Virginia Alderson of the Salvation Army said there is still a tremendous need for socks and underwear and there are many families without the means to provide Christmas presents. Forty cases of copier paper are being delivered by Scouts to Carteret County schools before Christmas. An anonymous donor, an Eagle Scout, was so inspired by the project that he wrote a $1,000 check the night before delivery. Late Friday night 758 pair of socks and underwear were purchased from that last-minute donation. He said, “It makes me proud to see the Scouts do good things for others.”
Before and immediately after the storm, East Carolina Council Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts provided over 4,000 hours of service in local communities setting up evacuation shelters; filling sandbags; removing wet carpet, furniture, and appliances from over 100 damaged homes; cleaning up yard debris; emptying more than 21 truckloads of relief supplies; and restocking food pantries.
Corporate partners also made valuable contributions. Domtar Corporation donated five full pallets of copier paper from their facility in Addison, Illinois in honor of their workers at their Plymouth, NC facility that was severely damaged in the hurricane. SCARCE Book Rescue donated nearly eleven thousand books. Bunzl Retail Services and The UPS Store donated 400 boxes and all the packing material for the items collected by Boy Scouts. UPS Freight donated the pick-up of thirty-five pallets from ten locations and delivery of these items to five locations in eastern North Carolina. Brown says the project would not have been possible without the critical support of these companies.
The third point of the Scout Law is “A Scout is Helpful”. In the Scout Oath, Scouts promise “to help other people at all times.” Boy Scouts in eastern North Carolina and across the country have put those words into action this Christmas season.