AREA — This year, the Scouts in Patriots’ Path Council, Boy Scouts of America, gave Santa’s elves a hand by collecting over 1,600 new, high-quality toys worth $30,000 to donate to the United States Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program. The Marines distribute these toys to disadvantaged children, locally, where the toys are collected.
Fords Fire Station Number 1, which is the charter organization for five Scouting units, held a holiday party with hot cocoa, cookies, and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus for the mission 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 gathered to celebrate the holidays, take photos with Santa, collect 190 toys, and deliver them to the Marines the next day.
Among Scout units participating in the Council-wide toy drive were The Flintlocks BSA, Inc.; Pack 20 and 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 U.S. Marines included Troops 75 and 80 (Cranford); Pack 145 (Clark); and Pack 318 (Edison). Troop 1150 (Sparta) brought toys to Operation Toy Train, which in turn delivers them to the Marines.
Toys collected included basketballs, soccer balls, footballs, board games, dolls, cars, trains, books, art supplies, new stuffed animals and LEGOs.
Council Toy Drive Chair Dr. D. Michael Hart thanked the many Scouting professionals and volunteers who helped make this program a success. Scouting professionals included Jenn Volz, who served on the administrative end; Joseph Gonnella, who contributed valuable input; Mike Loughman, who brought toys from the Council Service Center to Winnebago over a three-week period, plus promoted the toy drive at the holiday workshops he ran; Jason Dugan, who brought toys from the Skylands Roundtable to the Council Service Center; and Ranger Curt Haak, who spent a whole afternoon with Dr. Hart loading toys into his trailer to bring them to the Marines’ warehouse at Picatinny Arsenal. Ranger Haak also collected toys being shipped directly to the camp.
Volunteers helping this effort included Kathy Perna, Council community chair, with organization; Timothy Farrell, who offered helpful information; Flintlocks President John Koneski, who created a joint collection effort for the two troops in Cranford; and Robert Somes, who brought toys from the Raritan Valley Roundtable to the Fords Fire Department and helped organize the event there. The Flintlocks group all donated many toys, and encouraged their respective units, in order to make the toy drive a Council-wide success.
The Toys for Tots campaign originated in 1947 when 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 her husband told her that he could not find any, she instructed him to start one. Major Hendricks and the Marines in his reserve unit collected and distributed 5,000 toys in Los Angeles, Calif., the first year. Major Hendricks’ full-time job was director of public relations for Warner Brothers Studio, in Hollywood. His close friend Walt Disney designed the train logo, and Major Hendricks knew many stars and celebrities who also endorsed the program. It is now an official mission of the United States Marine Corps Reserve.
In 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. For more information, visit www.toysfortots.org.
The Patriots’ Path Council, Boy Scouts of America, consists of over 300 Scouting units in five counties of northern New Jersey. Cub Scouts consist of girl packs or boy packs and include children in kindergarten through fifth grade. Scouts consist of girl troops or boy troops from fifth grade through age 18. Three additional programs are coed, and go from age 14 up to age 21: Sea Scouts; Explorers, which focuses on specific careers; and Venture Crew, which go on high-adventure trips. The Flintlocks are a group of retired senior Scouters who volunteer year-round to support Council programs. Additional information can be found on the 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, visit www.beascout.org.