Story contributed by Mary Matelich, VP of Public Relations for the Montana Council
Bob Lester affectionately remembers the new pajamas he received on Christmas Eve as a child growing up. Waking up that Christmas morning he recalls the special cozy feeling being nestled in the warm, soft pajamas.
Now, as a parent, he ensures his children have new pajamas for Christmas Eve.
As a Deputy for the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Department, Lester sees a lot of people in a time of need. Becoming Cubmaster in May of this year, he saw an opportunity for his pack to demonstrate Scouting’s core values and aid people in their community through service projects.
In October, Lester and Montana Council’s pack 421 in Laurel, Mont., collected 525 pairs of socks, donating them to the Men’s Rescue Mission in nearby Billings, Mont. This is an impressive collection for a town with only 6,718 residents.
Soon after the success of the sock drive, friends at Department of Family Services (DFS) assured Lester that if his son’s pack collected pajamas, they would be given to homes of needy kids “right away.”
With a bit of incentive – using money from the annual popcorn sale, the den donating the most pajamas would receive a pizza party and each participating Scout would receive a prize from Cabela’s – participation was excitingly high.
In total, 125 pairs of pajamas were collected at the December pack meeting. The pack also hosted 110 people to sing Christmas carols at a senior living center and a flag retirement ceremony concluded the event.
“My mission is to give back to our community,” Lester said. “Now I have buy-in from the pack. They know it’s important.”
On December 13th, Lester, some Scouts, and a few other adults delivered the pajamas, along with a couple donated turkeys, to DFS.
“Receiving gifts for foster kids at Christmas time is such a special thing,” said Karly South, Child Protection Specialist. “As workers, we have a renewed hope in our community members. For our foster kids, they get to be your typical kids on Christmas. Many of our children have never experienced a Christmas that involves getting gifts and it’s so fun to see them experience it for the first time. It’s so important for the kids in our system to have any sense of normalcy they can.”
Thanks to the Scouts and Lester, along with a number of charitable hearts, youth in need will wake this Christmas morning warm, cozy and with the same special feeling that Lester woke to decades ago.
Scouting Wire would like to thank Mary Matelich of the Montana Council for submitting this story.