Troop 353 was honored to serve as the color guard at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Breakfast at the Reformed Church of Bronxville.
When the troop is invited by Eastchester Community Action Program (ECAP) to help out at its events, the scouts are always eager to assist. Notwithstanding the opening flag ceremony being led traditionally by the T353 SPL (Chris L in 2012) at the annual MLK celebration, the troop had a one of the larger contingents to assist in recent memory! The scouts appeared sharp in their uniforms and the breadth of attendance added pagentry to the event. The Mayor of Tuckahoe Steve Ecklond was so moved about T353’s frequent community presence that he chose to recognized T353 scouts a second time following the flag ceremony. At one time, the opening ceremony for the ECAP-sposored MLK breakfast was shared by various local scout troops.
After the opening ceremony and invocation, the scouts are privileged to enjoy a buffett breakfast and listen to the inspirational comments of some of the more important community leaders as well as historic presentations by children from local schools. Additionally, the scouts typically accrue 90–120 minutes of community service credit. The T-353 leaders are very proud of our Scouts ongoing commitment to this important community event, as these photos suggest!
Participating in Eastchester Community Action Program’s (ECAP Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive is our troop’s signature community service event. It is one of those family events where often times we see the parents but don’t see the scout on the night of sorting all our food booty at ECAP’s headquarters. There is a tremendous storage space in the basement that represents ECAP’s food pantry. Enough food from various corporate and civic donors is often enough to provide throughout the yearend holiday seasons and any excess food is shipped off to other Community Action Programs in Westchester County!
As is tradition, the troop’s adult volunteers seek out local golf pro Dave Stevenson and his very moving presentation about how he has remained committed to helping a small community in Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina — even to this day! His story is one of hope and inspiration and every time we hear his powerful message, our troop families comes away highly motivated to gather even more food throughout their neighborhood. Consequently, the troop’s Good Turn efforts tend to generate an above-average level of food and scout participation. As always, Ms. Charlene Lambrecht (Director of ECAP) is always enormously grateful for our troop’s efforts and this is very obvious from all the smiling faces above and in these wonderful pictures!
The 2011 ToughKids Triathlon Championship Race took place on Saturday, September 10, 2011 at Croton Point Park, in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. The triathlon race consisted of a swim, bike and run event and was an incredible success with over 500 child athletes ranging in age from 4-14.
This year’s race occurred on the eve of the 10th Anniversary of the September 11, 2011 attacks and paid special tribute to those sacrificed on 9/11, and those that are committed to preserving our freedom.
Troop 353 led by Will B., as part of his Life Scout Service Project, help organize all Troop 353 volunteers including participation in the opening ceremonies by presenting the colors, the Pledge of Allegiance and provided volunteer support throughout the race. In addition, Jack F delivered an inspirational speech honoring those lost on 9-11 and those that continue to fight for our freedom.
Scout volunteers included Will, Jack, Jimmy F., Michael I., Chris L., and James T.. Scout athletes participating in the race included Jason C., Christian D. and Matt O. Great Job Scouts! Check out these terrific pictures!
Few activities in Scouting create more good feelings than community service for a good cause. Being a NY-based scout troop, very few events resonate more in the minds of all residents than the catastrophic events of 9-11-01. The year 2011 marked the 10-year anniversary of this tragic event and so it was with extra care and diligence that the scouts of Troop 353 Eastchester approached their annual spring cleanup of the 9-11 prayer gardens at the Graymoor Monastery. Knowing that hundreds of people from all over the world would be prayerfully standing in the same place as our busy hands were working added an extra element of reverence to our labors. Scouts worked sometimes in silence, at other times happily basking in the warmth of life, but at all times with great purpose.
The day was also special in that our former SM T. McCandless brought his daughter to the worksite, after having just arrived home from spending 2 months in the hospital recovering from major surgery. “Special K” has been to many scout outings and deserves as many scout patches as most of the other boys, but that cold day in early March was a particulary memorable one as it marked the beginning of her return to a somewhat more normal resumption of daily activities, which includes a healthy dose of scouting activities! For a look at our Scouts in action, click here!
Given the difficult economic times, Troop 353 made an extra special effort in 2010 to gather more food for the Eastchester Community Action Program’s (ECAP) Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive. First, we asked local golf pro Dave Stevenson to come share his story about being his personal calling to help Hurrican Katrina victims in Mississippi after that massive storm decimated so many communities. Dave’s message is one of inspiration and hope to our troop families.
After our scout families hear this story, the boys then drop off empty foodbags in their neighborhood with a cover letter that indicates the Boy Scouts are helping ECAP in its annual Thanksgiving Food Drive (for the 17th year in a row!) and that the scout will pickup the filled grocery bag the following weekend. This year, the scouts got further organized and arranged to station themselves by patrol at various local grocery stores in order to seek additional food donations–which proved to be very successful. Then on Sunday night, scouts and parents alike descend on ECAP headquarters and begin to unload the +200 grocery bags, sort and stack in the correct shelf in the food pantry. By the way, the ECAP food pantry often feeds other needy families beyond our town’s borders. A Scout is Helpful, as these great photos will confirm!
Troop 353 is constantly looking for new and better “best practices”. One of the better ideas the troop has adopted in recent years is for Life Scout candidates to create, market, organize and lead a 6-hour community service project as a preparation “warmup” for a scout’s Eagle Leadership Project. One of the quickest projects our scouts can do is lead a major “spring cleanup” of the extensive grounds of the Immaculate Conception Church where our troop stores its troop gear for free. This exercise led to an accumulation of far more garbage than imagined as well as a surprise finding of a large old marble sign. The troop leaders look forward to an array of additional Life Scout Service Projects in coming years. For a few great pictures from a sunny but cool day in April, click here!
In mid-June several troops were invited by the Eastchester Historical Society to participate in the dedication of a new flag pole at the One Room Marble School House, erected in 1835. It was a small event, by community standards, with about 30 people total, but was well represented by Troop 353. In honor of the newly dedicated flag pole, the Scouts hoisted the American Flag and led the crowd of appreciative onlookers in the pledge of allegiance. Following a few brief dedications by local dignitaries, the local VFW provided a 3-gun salute. It was a small, but meaningful, way for Troop 353 scouts to serve their community! More great pics here.
With the growing sensitivity to preserving our environment, the town of Eastchester embarked on an ambitious day-long exhibition highlighting conservation and environmentally-friendly practices in our community. Not surprisingly, both girl and boy scout troops were invited to set up display booths highlighting conservation-minded projects. The timing dovetailed perfectly with Life Scout David Q’s recently completed Eagle Leadership Project. David led the troop, as part of a much larger effort orchestrated by the Tuckahoe Village, in a cutting-edge project to measure the tree canopy of the Village of Tuckahoe. Training our scouts on how to document the health and size of the trees owned by the Village was the primary focus of David’s project. The tree canopy project itself has proven to have clear economic benefits that have been well-documented in other like studies in California and in the far East. As well, ASM & Eagle Scout Thomas McNamara helped lead the Pledge of Allegiance in the opening flag ceremony that morning. Troop 353 scouts, adequately trained by David Q., fielded many visitors throughout the day inquiring about the nature of the unique tree canopy project. Next year, it is the great hope of the 4 Rivers District Boy Scout Executives, that additional local Boy Scout troops will “be prepared” to participate in this significant community event! More great pics here.
In our community, the Bronx River Parkway (BRP) is a central north-south traffic artery that also enjoys a nearby paved bike path. The bike path runs parallel to the Bronx River, which is an a unique eco-system teaming with life. Unfortunately, given the population density of our area, the bike path also tends to take on the characteristics of a garbarge dump over time. Enter the Boy Scouts. There is a section of the BRP that four local Boy Scout troops have taken on the responsibility for keeping the area relatively litter-free. The designated clean-up day this year turned out to be a wet one, but that did not slow down the natural curiousity of a few dedicated scouts. Plenty of trash was gathered in bags provided by Bob Del Torto of Westchester County Parks.
A few months later, Mr. Del Torto reached out again for volunteers of a special cause: to erect over 25 informational signs about the surrounding environment along the bike path. This day long work project, in conjunction with other Westchester County Park volunteers, was officially recognized a month later in a special ribbon cutting ceremony at the Kensico Dam with several dignitaries in attendance, including well-known news anchor, Dan Rather — the voice used in the audio tour that coincides with the newly erected informational signs along the nature path. For volunteers of Troop 353, it was a special day! Great pics can be found here.
One of Eastchester Troop 353’s proudest and longest-standing traditions, and one that clearly distinguishes our troop from others in our area, is contributing substantially to the annual Thanksgiving Food Drive for Eastchester Community Action Program (ECAP)! In the opinion of the Scoutmaster, our troop takes its community service mandate to a higher level than the overall Council-wide food drive that occurs in fall, as our scout’s collective efforts have a very substantial and direct impact on ECAP. ECAP is the local office of the Westchester Community Opportunity Program (WestCOP)–one of 16 offices in the Westchester & Putnam County. According to the WestCOP website, it is “a private not-for-profit, multipurpose social service agency operating community programs to combat poverty and its adverse effects in Westchester and Putnam counties.
“Chartered in 1965, the organization each year receives more than 60 grants from corporations, government, foundations and individuals to sponsor numerous programs essential to the well being of the community’s residents. These programs include 30 Day Care / Head Start centers, 12 Community Action Programs (CAPs), Substance abuse, Family living program, Homeless prevention and Assistance programs, Emergency food pantries, Surplus food distribution, Energy conservation and Weatherization programs and numerous employment and training programs. WestCOP services include a variety of special projects, such as the Foster Grandparents Programs, an Emergency Homeless Men’s Shelter, Seniors in Community Services, Victims Assistance Services, Rape Crisis Services, a Rape Hotline, Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention and Community Services to the Elderly.
“The nucleus of the agency’s operations is its neighborhood services centers (CAPs) which act as advocates for the poor and minorities by helping their constituencies to organize for the purpose of exerting influence on the larger community’s allocation of resources and keeping their interests before local governments, and public and private agencies.
“The CAPs help the poor and the minorities to meet the needs, which they themselves identify, provide resources to neighborhood and community groups to secure professional and technical assistance and provide direct services to individuals who have no where else to turn. ”
Troop 353 is particularly proud of its 17 year tradition of contributing directly to its local community. Our troop’s efforts to collect well over 200 grocery bags throughout our neighborhood, along with other corporate donors, has a truly long-lasting impact, as ECAP is one of the few WestCOP offices to supply both its local and surrounding communities with a well-stock food bank. The food contributed during the Thanksgiving food drive, according to Charlene Lambrecht, the ECAP program director, was enough to last through the yearend holidays.
A scout is Helpful!
Scouts of Troop 353 were given a unique opportunity to earn community service hours – running in the 32nd Annual Tuckahoe Challenge Road Race! How do scouts earn community service hours for jogging? As you may imagine, this is a significant local event. And this year, the Eastchester Community Action Program (ECAP) was allowed to have sponsors run in the race. Qualified runners were asked to secure sponsorships to fund partially ECAP’s Project Restoration — monies needed for physical restoration of the ECAP’s local office building. The Road Race consisted of both a one-mile and a five-mile segment and the turnout included at least two hundred runners, including several family members of Troop 353. As a result, our scouts were successful at raising meaningful sums of money for ECAP.