This Saturday, Jan. 4, Queen Anne Boy Scouts Troop No. 70 will conduct its first Christmas tree pickup. A few weeks ago, the troop delivered flyers to approximately 3,000 homes in Queen Anne, notifying them of the pickup.
“We’re going to turn these Christmas trees back into mulch,” John Burreson said.
Scoutmaster Burreson leads the group of 20 boys ages 11 to 17. Diane Ginnett leads the committee that organizes the troop and parents. Ginnett’s son, Matt Ginnett, 14, is in the troop.
“We try to get them to do as much as they can,” she said.
The troop is always coming up with ideas for fundraising. The boys sell popcorn around Queen Anne often, but this year, they were looking for something more outdoors and physical, Ginnett said, so that’s why they decided to do the tree-recycling program.
The program will be a pilot this year, “just to get our feet wet,” Ginnett said. The troop will work with Ballard Tree Service and Dirt Exchange in Ballard, which volunteered two of its trucks.
On Jan. 4, the troop will take the trucks around Queen Anne and pick up people’s trees. Then Ballard Tree will cut the trees up. The troop is charging a suggested donation between $15 and $25 for the service.
The troop will use the money collected for equipment and the annual camping trip.
The troop is also doing it to help out the neighborhood, Matt said, “just to do a good deed.”
In addition to the tree-recycling program, the troop just completed its 16th blood drive, collecting 500 pints of blood in total. The blood-drive program began as an Eagle Scout project three years ago and continues on as a legacy program. The troop partners with Puget Sound Blood Center.
“We’ve been very successful, so they like us a lot,” Ginnett said.
The drives usually take place in the fellowship hall of the Queen Anne Methodist Church (1606 Fifth Ave. W.). During the drives, parent volunteers like Ginnett and Scouts, like her son Matt, work in the canteen, where donors go after they donate. The troop is trained to make sure the people in the canteen are doing well following their blood donation.
The troop does about five blood drives a year, Matt said. He makes sure everyone is feeling good, checks to make sure they’re eyes aren’t dilated and they’re not slurring their words.
“I just feel great after helping other people,” he said.
And that help is really needed, Burreson said. Puget Sound Blood Bank is constantly trying to keep up with the blood demands of a large metropolitan area, so “the more blood drives, the better,” he said.
The troop will have another blood drive on Feb. 22.
Each Scout does individual projects, in addition to the group projects. This year, Matt did a shoe drive, collecting shoes for Redeeming Soles (92 Lenora St.). He set up donation boxes at four locations in Queen Anne, as well as at his school, Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien, Wash. He collected 150 pairs from his school and 100 pairs from the donations spots in Queen Anne. He then gave the shoes to the Redeeming Soles warehouse, where they were distributed to the needy.
Taking leadership roles
Matt, now a ninth-grader, began Scouts when he was in first grade, after his dad surprised him with a Cub Scout uniform. For him, the most important thing he’s learning is leadership training.
“You can be in a leadership position, but people won’t follow you; you have to lead by example,” he said. “Even if you’re not in a high position, you can still be a leader.”
Ginnett is proud of her son’s work with the troop. He learns leadership skills and has a sense of camaraderie with his fellow Scouts. There’s a strong structure in place that allows the boys to try things, she said; if they fail, it’s a safe place where they can learn from their mistakes.
“Our troop is fantastic for that,” she said. “We all work very hard to have the boys do the jobs they can do. The rule is, “Don’t do something a Scout can do,” so we work hard at doing that.”
The troop is unique, Burreson said, because it draws from about 10 schools throughout Seattle, whereas many troops are much closer in to the neighborhoods. Word of mouth draws new Scouts, he said.
Scouts is good for boys in Seattle, he said: It gets them into “nature, and they understand how to survive and make decisions on their own.”
Burreson also treats his troop as a “real training ground for communication.” The boys learn how to communicate with adults, each other and the community, he said.
“I’m very proud of the troop in their ability to make decisions and govern themselves,” he said, “and have a great time doing it.”
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