OK, so I am late on this. That’s what happens when life gets in the way of things…
Anyway, we had another busy Scouting weekend last weekend. Thursday, was supposed to be our December service project outing but with the ~4 inches of snowfall we received (yes I know that ain’t much for some parts of the country — in this neck of the woods, anything over 1.5-2 inches creates havoc) schools were closed and getting to the church for the service project might prove difficult for some in the pack. Rather than chance things, we decided to postpone it until Saturday.
Friday night we had our December pack meeting. Knowing that parties abound in school and other places for the boys, we generally do not have a “party meeting” per se. We do however, get into the Christmas spirit by doing some type of holiday craft and hand out Pinewood Derby car kits wrapped as presents from the pack to the boys. In the seasonal spirit of giving, we ask that each boy, in order to receive his car kit, bring in some food items that can be used for our service project. We prefer that the boys do some type of work /chore at home to earn the food item rather than just go to the family’s pantry and grab a can of beans. This we feel, helps the boy learn that in Scouts he pays is own way. We started this tradition a few years back and have gotten a good response each year.
This year we added a slight twist to the car kit distribution process. All of our tenured Cubs know that at the December meeting they get their car kit. Because of the two snow storms we had this week, we told the boys that we were unable to get the kits in time and we would distribute them during the first part of Christmas break. There were a few that thought we were kidding and begun looking for the kits. It was quite amusing. Anyway…on to the craft portion of the meeting. The boys made a reindeer ornament out of cork and a penguin snow measuring stick. As they were wrapping up (no pun intended) doing the craft, who should show up but Santa and Mrs. Claus!!! Normally we have one of the fathers assist and be a Santa’s helper but with a connection our committee chair has with the North Pole, we got the real deal. He entertained the kids and parents alike with a sing-a-long of Christmas music and then announced he had heard we were “unable” to get the car kits due to the snow and decided to help out and bring them to our boys. There was a huge sigh of relief from a number of the boys…they would in fact get their derby cars.
Each boy (and siblings, and even some parents) was able to sit on Santa’s lap, talk to him for a moment or two, get their picture taken and the Cubs received their car kit. Having Santa really added to the festive atmosphere.
Saturday morning, we headed out for our service project. The church we attend has a mission center in downtown Covington, KY. For the past few years they take orders from families who are in need or in less fortunate circumstances who would need a holiday meal. For most, this is the only decent meal they may have over the holidays. Using donations from church members and also food collected by each den as part of the service project, we fill boxes and grocery bags with the essentials for a holiday meal (ham, stuffing, corn, yams, green beans, cranberry sauce, instant potatoes, juice and Christmas candy). This year there were requests from 161 different families needing assistance.
Helping out for the second year, we have begun to master the process to be efficient and effective and keep the boys busy. We line up all the boxes and bags along the walls in the hallways of the church and have the food sorted into like item groups in a room. We then line the boys up outside the food staging room, a parent hand out 2-3 items and send them on their way to drop off their goods. We then have a parent or two instruct them which bag to place their item in. In order to ensure each box/bag gets everything that is necessary, it is a methodical process. Then they go to the back of the “food line” to get more and do it again. This keeps them moving and busy pretty much the whole time. It took us about 2 hours to prep and fill all of the boxes/bag. We finished just in time as the first of the recipients began to arrive to pick up their meal items. While we did not stay long enough to allow the boys to see exactly who they were helping, we did impress upon them that the list of recipients represented real people who would have a slightly better Christmas because of their effort.