If finding a Christmas tree and/or helping others are on your list this holiday season, there's one place in Avon you can do both on Dec. 1.
Avon Boy Scout Troop 274 is collecting bottles and cans on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at J. Foster Ice Cream along Route 44.
The opening for its second annual Christmas tree stop there was Thanksgiving weekend and the so-named Balsam Fir Forest will be there through the month of December.
"Other scout troops in the state (along the shoreline) had regaled me with tales of great success for a number of years running," said Assistant Scoutmaster Frank Campanelli, who is working with Assistant Scoutmaster Michael Donahue on overseeing the Christmas tree project. "It was determined worth a try if the proper venue could be secured, and we couldn’t have done any better than J. Foster’s Ice Cream on the main thoroughfare through the valley."
The Canadian Balsam, or American Balsam, trees come from Northern Vermont and range from 6 to 9 feet tall. They cost $45 to $65, depending on size.
Marshmallow roasting will also be offered by the Christmas trees, according to a press release.
Troop 274 was founded in 1968 and there are about 70 scouts in it now.
The proceeds will help offset the cost for 2013 High Adventure scouts to take trips to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and the quadrennial National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, according to a press release from the troop. In New Mexico, participating scouts will hike for more than 60 miles over a 10-day span and do other challenges and activities.
"Teamwork is key, as is youth leadership," Troop 274 Scoutmaster Bill Roell said. "Philmont Scout Ranch is 'Scouting Paradise'.... Any Scout, without regard to age, comes away with an appreciation for personal challenge, teamwork, and the beauty of a pristine piece of the American Rocky Mountains. Boys lead the crew of 12 .... Adults provide advice when asked, and are ever-watchful for safety issues."
About 27 Avon scouts and three chaperones will go on the second trip to the jamboree near the New River gorge. About 40,000 scouts from across the country are expected to attend. The area is "renown for world class whitewater and rock climbing," Roell said. The Boys Scouts of America are using a donation from the Bechtel Family to develop a nearby site into a Boy Scout adventure base for future nationwide and worldwide Boy Scout events, he added.
"The scouts get to learn how to set goals and put in practice the ideals promulgated in the scouting program," Campanelli said. "Scouting has proven to be one of the best ways to grow young men into the responsible citizens and leaders of their generation."
Roell wrote in an email that the Avon scouts are encouraged to "pay their way" for such trips.
"The added benefit is the immediate feedback they get by spreading some memorable holiday cheer at a special time of year," Campanelli said regarding the Christmas tree sales.
Last year, proceeds from the tree sales and can/bottle drives, as well as a portion of the troop's endowment, helped 24 scouts pay for a trip to Alaska for two weeks of traveling from just north of the Arctic Circle to Anchorage, hiking, ice climbing and fishing, according to Campanelli. Six scoutmasters accompanied them. Campanelli called it "a trip of a lifetime."
The can and bottle drive is a longtime tradition for the troop, which does the drive on the first Saturdays of March, June, September and December, according to Roell. All bottles and cans must be redeemable in Connecticut. Gatorade, lemonade and iced tea cans or bottles typically aren't accepted, Campanelli noted.
Helping Hurricane Sandy Victims
Simultaneously, the Farmington Valley Rotary Clubs are running a drive to help people in Staten Island who lost a lot because of Hurricane Sandy. After the Avon-Canton Rotary Club reached out to Troop 274 to see if there was a way to involve the scouts, the troop immediately sprung into action.
"Part of what scouting is about is learning to give back to the community," Campanelli said. "Scouts pledge 'to help other people at all times,' so it is natural to want to assist storm victims in need. Most Thanksgivings see us help out refurbishing local halfway houses or helping our town cub scout packs with 'Avon Cleanup Day,’ et cetera."
The troop will host a collection site for people to drop off donations for the relief efforts.
Region Rotary Club members will also be stationed in the Walmart parking lot along Route 44 in Avon and the Farmington Hampton Inn on Route 6 in Farmington between 9 and 3 p.m. manning collection sites.
Requested donations, new and used, include,
- Canned goods
- Crow bars
- Disposable coveralls
- Contractor bags
- Industrial cleaners
- Dust masks
- Work gloves
- Phone cards
- Plastic shelving units
- Cash donations
- Bubble wrap
- Packing tape
- Empty boxes
- School supplies
- Sump pumps, hoses
- Plastic sheeting
- Batteries -AA/C/D
- Sheet rock
- BX cable
- Dry wall tape
- Joint Compound
For more information on the Boy Scout Christmas tree forest and can/bottle drive, you can contact Frank Campanelli (860) 250-4560 or Maria at (860) 675-6030. Call 860-673-2225 with questions about the Farmington Valley Rotary Clubs' drive for Hurricane Sandy victims.