Local Scouts Give Elves a Hand to “Fill Santa’s Sleigh”

Scouts Give Elves a Hand

Submitted by Dr. D. Michael Hart

Every December, Santa’s elves are working furiously to make enough toys for all the children of the world. This year the scouts in Patriots’ Path Council, Boy Scouts of America, gave them a hand. The scouts collected over 1600 new, high-quality toys worth $30,000 to donate to the US Marines Toys For Tots Program. The Marines distribute these toys to disadvantaged children, locally, where the toys are collected.

A good example is the event at Fords Fire Station Number 1, which is the charter organization for 5 scouting units. They held a holiday party with hot cocoa and cookies, and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Clause for the purpose to “Fill Santa’s Sleigh”. Cub Scout Pack 26 (girls), Scout Troop 26 (girls), Cub Scout Pack 53 (boys), Scout Troop 53 (boys), and coed Venture Crew 7, all got together to party and do some good in the world. The five units were able to have some fun, take photos with Santa, collect 190 toys, and deliver them to the Marines the next day.

Other scout units participating in the Council wide Toy Drive were: The Flintlocks BSA, Inc.; Pack 20 & Troop 128 (East Hanover); Pack 137 (Cranford); Troop 125 (South Plainfield); Pack 6 (Chatham); Patriots’ Path Council Executive Committee; and Pack 54 Succasunna.

Units which brought toys directly to the US Marines were: Troops 75 & 80 (Cranford); Pack 145 (Clark); and Pack 318 (Edison). Troop 1150 (Sparta) brought toys to Operation Toy Train; which then in turn, delivers them to the Marines.

Toys collected included: basketballs, soccer ball, footballs, board games, dolls, cars, trains, books, art supplies, new stuffed animals, & LEGO’s.

Council Toy Drive Chair, Dr. D. Michael Hart, thanked many scouting professionals and volunteers who helped make this program a success. Scouting professionals included Jenn Volz, who was fantastic on the administrative end; Joseph Gonnella contributed some great ideas; Mike Loughman brought toys from the Council Service Center to Winnebago the last 3 weeks; plus promoted the Toy Drive at the Holiday Workshops he ran. Jason Dugan brought toys from the Skylands Round Table to the Council Service Center. Ranger Curt Haak spent the whole afternoon with Michael Hart loading toys into his trailer to bring them to the Marines warehouse at Picatinny Arsenal. Curt also collected toys being shipped directly to the camp.

Volunteers helping this effort included: Kathy Perna, Council Community Chair, with organization; Timothy Farrel offered helpful information; Flintlocks President John Koneski who created a joint collection effort for the two Troops in Cranford; Robert Somes brought toys from the Raritan Valley Roundtable to the Fords Fire Dept. and helped organize the event there. The Flintlocks group all donated a lot of toys, and encouraged their respective units, in order to make the Toy Drive a Council wide success.

How did this all start? In 1947, Diane Hendricks made a few handcrafted Raggedy Ann dolls and asked her husband Bill to deliver them to an agency that supports children in need. When Bill told his wife that he couldn’t find any, she instructed him to “Start One!”. Maj Hendricks and the Marines in his reserve unit collected and distributed 5,000 toys in Los Angeles, CA, the first year. Bill’s full-time job was Director of Public Relations for Warner Brothers Studio, in Hollywood.  His close personal friend, Walt Disney, designed the train logo, and Bill knew many stars and celebrities who also endorsed the program. It is now an official mission of the US Marines Corps Reserve.

Last year, 2022, the Toys For Tots program collected and distributed 22 million toys to fulfill the holiday hopes and dreams of 8.7 million underprivileged children. www.toysfortots.org

The Patriots’ Path Council, Boy Scouts of America, consists of over 300 scouting units in 5 counties of northern New Jersey. Cub Scouts consist of girl Packs or boy Packs and include children in kindergarten through 5th grade. Scouts consist of girl Troops or boy Troops from 5th grade through age 18. Three additional programs are coed, and go from age 14 up to age 21: Sea Scouts; Explorers- which focus on specific careers; and Venture Crew – which go on high adventure trips. The Flintlocks are group of retired senior scouters who volunteer all year round to support the Council programs. Facebook Page “Flintlocks” The Scouting program focuses on developing good citizens, learning useful skills and hobbies, exploring careers, and making lifelong friends. The website for the Patriots’ Path Council is www.ppcbsa.org  To find a scout unit near you, go to the website www.beascout.org