In recognition of Veterans Day, nearly 90 Cub Scouts from the Tecumseh Tribe of Pack 358 today contributed over $1,350 in hard-earned popcorn sales rewards to the Indiana National Guard Relief Fund as part of their inaugural Half to Heroes effort to help needy soldiers and their families. Officials at the national Boy Scout headquarters know of no other time when Scouts have ever parted with their personal rewards from popcorn sales to benefit others.
“The values of Scouting are the values of the Indiana National Guard: selfless service, respect, duty,” said Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, Adjutant General of the Indiana National Guard. “These young men and their families have honored us today, and their compassion for our Soldiers and Airmen is greatly appreciated.”
Each fall, Scouts knock on doors in their communities to sell popcorn to benefit Scouting programs at the national, state and local level. As an incentive for selling, Scouts can earn gift cards from Amazon or Walmart. For example, a Scout who sells between $250 and $349 in popcorn earns a gift card worth $10. The rewards become larger with increased sales.
In an effort to underscore Scouting’s core values of selflessness and service to others, the Scouts were challenged at the September popcorn sales kick-off to pledge to give at least half of any earned rewards to help soldiers and their families. Accordingly, the campaign was named Half to Heroes. During their weeks of door-to-door sales, the Scouts wore “I’m giving Half to Heroes” stickers, generously provided by Print Resources, Inc.
Today, at their school’s annual Veterans Day assembly, the Scouts culminated their weeks of work by donating over $1,350 in earned rewards to needy soldiers and military families by placing their gift cards in an upturned soldier’s helmet as members of the Indiana National Guard looked on. Most of the Scouts ultimately decided to contribute all of their gift card earnings, not just half. Individual contributions ranged from $10 to $160 in gift card donations. The Union Elementary School community in Zionsville was inspired by the Half to Heroes effort, purchasing $30,000 in popcorn from the Scouts this year – an over 66% increase in sales from 2010.
“The generosity of the Scouts from the Tecumseh Tribe of Cub Scout Pack 358 proves they know firsthand the promise to ‘help other people’ is an important part of the Scout movement,” said Scott Clabaugh, head Scout Executive in Central Indiana, who was on hand for the event. “Crossroads of America Council salutes these Scouts for making service to others a real part of their lives. ”
The Scouts’ contributions to the Indiana National Guard Relief Fund were significantly boosted when representatives of Amazon and Walmart each contributed $1,000, raising the campaign’s total gift to over $3,350.
“Walmart is honored to participate in Half to Heroes with the Tecumseh Tribe of Cub Scout Pack 358,” said David Reitnauer, Walmart regional general manager, headquartered in Plainfield. “Your support of proud and brave men and women and their families through the Indiana National Guard Relief Fund is patriotism at its best! This is a great example of finding a unique way to help our armed forces even at such a young age.”
During the ceremony, a letter was shared with the Scouts from U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, who praised the Scouts, calling their contributions to soldiers and their families “a remarkable example of your commitment to community service.” Lugar concluded his letter by saying, “As an Eagle Scout and a Veteran, I applaud each of you for making the decision to help those who are risking their lives for their country and for each of us.”
Speaking on behalf of the Tecumseh Tribe, the top adult leader, known as the Cubmaster, Tom Sugar, said, “We believe Scouting is a strong partner for parents in helping to instill positive values in growing boys and young men. Our Half to Heroes effort is another powerful example of that commitment. The Scouts learned about compassion, service to others, deep respect for our brave men and women in the military – and they experienced the special satisfaction that comes from being a part of something bigger than yourself.”
The Tecumseh Tribe of Pack 358 hopes to serve as an example to Scouts across the state and country, and intends to encourage others to give Half to Heroes next year.