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Scouts aid storm-ravaged areas

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Cub Scouts sort Christmas presents, school supplies and books into bins at Christmas Cheer in Jacksonville.

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Rocky Mount Telegram

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Boy Scouts from six states, including the East Carolina Council based in Kinston, collected more than 35,000 items for families in five counties devastated by Hurricane Florence.

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.

“It is so exciting to me to see how Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts across the country responded to the needs in our area,” said Doug Brown, scout executive for the East Carolina Council. “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 30 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, officials said.

On Dec. 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 FEMA or insurance documentation showing home damage and local residency could select whatever items they needed. 421 Jones County residents took advantage of the opportunity. The Boy Scouts provided more than 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 12 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 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.

“All the Christmas presents will be distributed,” said Theo McClammy, executive director of Onslow Community Outreach, which runs Christmas Cheer. “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. 

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 was an answer to prayers.

“There are still so many people in the area who need help,” he said. “This is super.”

Lenoir County Schools was the recipient of 3,034 books for their elementary and middle school libraries and 20 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 400 presents, 300 pairs of socks and underwear and over 3,000 books. Major Virginia Alderson of the Salvation Army said there still is a tremendous need for socks and underwear and there were many families without the means to provide Christmas presents.

Forty cases of copier paper were 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. More than 750 pair of socks and underwear were purchased from that last-minute donation.

“It makes me proud to see the Scouts do good things for others,” the donor said.

Before and immediately after the storm, East Carolina Council Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts provided more than 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 Corp. donated five full pallets of copier paper from their facility in Addison, Ill., in honor of their workers at their Plymouth facility that was severely damaged in the hurricane. SCARCE Book Rescue donated nearly 11,000 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 35 pallets from 10 locations and delivery of these items to five locations in eastern North Carolina.

Brown said 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 season, officials said.