By mid-October, Brigantine Cub Scout Pack 23 was busy selling boxes of popcorn for their annual fundraiser. But one donation made a particular weekend sale at the local Wawa stand out as one of the most generous moments the group of young boys had ever witnessed.
Just two weeks before Hurricane Sandy made its way to the area, a group of boys set up camp at the local store, a sign promoting the Coast Guard behind them.
Passer-by typically went on their way, unwilling to put out $18 for a box of popcorn. But some would give a donation that would be used to send popcorn to the armed forces.
One woman from Gladwyne, Pa., who wished to remain anonymous, walked by with her pocketbook in hand, ready to make an unprecedented donation - she found the scouts to be a worthy cause and the opportunity allowed her to finally give back to the Coast Guard, said James Mackey, father to scout Brendan Mackey, 10.
"Supposedly, her husband had been saved by the Coast Guard years ago," Mackey said. "She donated a check for $1,000. … She asked me to promise her that it would go to the servicemen and women."
In total, the fundraiser raised between $2,500 and $3,000, so the donation was a significant contribution - a contribution that inspired Scout Pack 23 to thank the Coast Guard themselves.
"After (Hurricane Sandy) hit, the pack decided to want to thank them," Mackey said.
At a recent meeting at the Brigantine Community Center, five representatives from U.S. Coast Guard Station Atlantic City were invited to pick up the boxes of popcorn that the scouts purchased for them using the $1,000 donation.
Mackey, along with the pack's committee chair, Carol Quigley, thanked the members for the work they did daily. Cub Scout Jake McCutcheon, 10, handed them a package of brightly colored thank-you cards, each made personally by the 13 scouts.
Jake wrote in his card how he found the service members really cool. His fellow scout, Evan Couval, 10, wrote, "Thank you for saving everybody during Superstorm Sandy."
"It's really special because it's not regular," Jake said of having the chance to meet and thank the Coast Guard members.
The service members thanked the group of first- through fifth-grade boys, predicting that the snack would come in handy during their Christmastime shifts.
"It's so appreciated by all of the Coasties that we work with," said Coast Guard firefighter Orlin Darby, of Brigantine. "I'll be working on Christmas, I know, and this just shows that people out there appreciate what we do and it makes our job worthwhile. … It gives me goose bumps, really."
As the Coast Guard members carried boxes of popcorn to their car that night, Quigley couldn't help but feel happy to see her scouts show their appreciation for the first responders.
"(The Coast Guard) is out there doing a great job and they're not home for long periods of time," she said. We try to get (the scouts) to do service projects, to be better and help people."
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