Organisers of this year’s Treat For Troops drive in Hemel Hempstead brought out the big guns to make sure the operation was completed with military precision on Friday night.
A total of 84 scouts from groups around the town, together with a doz older Explorers, scout leaders, veterans, serving soldiers and scouting ambassadors answered MP Mike Penning’s recruiting call and worked together to pack shoeboxes full of goodies to be sent to the front line.
Scouts arrived at Hobbs Hill Wood School armed with goodies and treats that they had gathered, and empty shoeboxes.
Goodies included items bought with donations from parents of children in the 7th Hemel Hempstead (Lockers Park) group, who were unable to join the big night because of a previous commitment.
Sam Sheppard from supermarket chain Aldi, which is due to open its first Hemel Hempstead store next week, turned up at the school with a whole boot full of goodies to add to the donations.
Several other stores around the town who gave contributions.
Mr Penning kicked off the evening by explaining why this campaign is so vital for the morale of our troops, how the products will get to the people who need them most, and the journey they will take from Hobbs Hill Wood to outposts in Afghanistan. Then it was time to start packing!
Items were laid out in groups along four ‘production lines’ and with guidance from the adults, all the young people filled the boxes taking items from similar groups, travelling along the tables until they had packed a box with a lovely selection of toiletries, sweets, drink sachets, crisps, dried meals, packs of cards, pens, puzzle books, note pads and more.
Completed boxes were stacked up ready to be taken to Mr Penning’s office, where the Lions will this week be checking and weighing them before they are sealed and sent off to Afghanistan.
Leaders tried to guess how many boxes would be filled, but no-one could have predicted that the scouts would manage to pack 308 boxes... and in a matter of just 20 minutes once they had everything laid out and started!
It took a fleet of six cars to transport the shoeboxes to the MP’s office.
Mr Penning said “I have been supporting Treats For Troops for around 15 years, but to witness this display of teamwork and generosity by people so young was truly overwhelming.
“Thanks to them 308 members of our British armed forces will be smiling on Christmas morning.
“Hemel Hempstead District Scouts invited me to become an Ambassador of their fantastic organisation earlier this year and I was honoured to accept.
“These young people are a real credit to our community and I am delighted to be associated with them”.
Scouting ambassadors Mark Mitchell of Community Action Dacorum, head teacher Gary Lewis from Kings Langley School and former Mayor of Dacorum Councillor Bert Chapman all got stuck in to help add to the total
Local scout Leader Jan Maddern said, “Our country is extremely proud of our troops and this campaign shows how much they will be thought of over Christmas.
“I never fail to be amazed by our scouts, and they really did our community proud this week.
“Having grown up in the armed forces and been separated from my father for six months as a child, I can appreciate the importance of these boxes.
“Well done to George and the team at 1st Kings Langley who organised this event, which will be remembered by Hemel Hempstead Scouts for many years.
“The troops will benefit greatly, but actually, so will our scouts and their families who can be very satisfied that they personally helped to make someone’s life better. What could be better than that?”
Local scouts have also been learning this week about Remembrance and in particular how difficult our injured troops find life back home, as they get used to living with disability, and Sunday saw scouts attending Remembrance services across the borough.
To join the adventure of scouting in Hemel Hempstead contact District Commissioner Russ Dyble on 07790 296378 or email firstname.lastname@example.org