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Many folks answer Boy Scout's call to help needy families at Christmastime


Twelve-year-old Joshua Poland issued the orders, and some 15 of his fellow Boy Scouts in Troop 442, along with about 500 beneficiaries, responded.

Saturday's Christmas event at Paul & Jerry's Self Storage on County Line Road was called "Give Till It's Gone."

The storage company, a donation site for several nonprofit agencies that receive goods beyond their need, parks them, then gives them away quarterly. The items include abandoned items from storage units, added owner Tim Reed.

Joshua wanted to do more, particularly to help needy families at Christmastime. He envisioned an Eagle Scout project.

He asked his school, Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics, for help, but administrators told him they already had holiday projects lined up. So Joshua approached Reed about having an event at Paul & Jerry's.

"This came together," the youth said, gesturing to the orderly line of recipients, Scouts poised to direct the crowd — a separate room for kids to "shop" for their parents — and other Scouts at the ready to wrap, tape and place ribbons on packages.

"He's delegating," said Joshua's mother, Fran Poland.

An Eagle Scout project requires organization of others. In other words, leadership is a necessity. Joshua has been a Scout since age 6; his mother is a troop chairwoman.

The items given out ranged from T-shirts to TVs.

One thing the school did allow was for Joshua to put out the word to other schools in the district, asking for classes to fill Christmas stockings for youngsters. He visited and collected stockings from 86 classrooms.

Padula's Pizza, at Poland's request, donated 15 pizzas for a party to the class that gave the most. Also responding to the Scout's organizational plan, RE/MAX Advance Realty put out boxes to collect gifts and solicited donations.

"We went out and bought toys with this (money)," Joshua said.

Four area churches and a half-dozen nonprofit agencies contributed toys and home goods.

Leading the line of grateful recipients, Will Caton, 62, of Land O'Lakes, battling cancer, said in a raspy voice that he was hoping to secure food "and a dresser, if they have one. Maybe a couple of T-shirts ... and a prayer."

The retiree has a wife and son at home.

Krystal Davis, 24, of Spring Hill said her greatest want was for a job, not among Saturday's offerings. But for her children, she was looking for Christmas Gifts. Her 4-year-old son wanted a remote-controlled Jeep. For her 1-year-old, "whatever there is."

Davis said she came to the giveaway "because we don't have any money ... nothing."

She said she works a couple of days a week, taking home about $200.

Christmas presents — toys and clothes — were on the wish list of Sarah Heine, 26, Spring Hill.

Of her children — ages 1, 4 and 7, she said: "They're not picky."

Heine said she is employed, but her hours were reduced recently.

Beth Gray can be contacted at

Many folks answer Boy Scout's call to help needy families at Christmastime 12/21/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 21, 2011 7:24pm]
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