The holidays are a time for coming together, for tradition and celebration. For Galloway Township's Boy Scout Troop 634, the holidays mean something else: the beginning of their annual Christmas tree and wreath sale.

Since Nov. 25, the boys of Troop 634 have staffed the lot on the corner of Pomona Road and the White Horse Pike in Galloway, selling trees and wreaths as part of what has become the troop's biggest fundraiser of the year.

Jon Bell, father of scout Shane Bell and one of the troop's leaders, said the sale is always a highlight of the scouting calendar.

"This is a way for them to provide a service to the community that people want," Bell said. "It's something they can take pride in, the fact that they're helping raise money, and the boys love coming out here."

Trees are $50 and wreaths are $15, and all profits go to Boy Scout Troop and Cub Scout Pack 634. This is the boys' 10th year running the fundraiser. The sale runs 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 to 9 p.m. Saturdays and 9 to 7 p.m. Sunday until Dec. 23.

Scout Steven Bailey, 13, of Galloway Township, said he looks forward to participating in the sale each year.

"I like it, helping others out," Steven said. "Everything was fun."

The sale accounts for about half the scouts' funds for a given year, and is used primarily to help cover costs of summer camp, which can cost $200 to $400 per person unsubsidized.

Bell said that not only do the proceeds go to a good cause, but the wares are top quality.

"These trees were cut probably two or three days before Thanksgiving, so they're all very fresh," Bell said. "Our wreaths are made in Maine, and they're also very fresh. Everyone always compliments us on how high-quality our stuff is."

The sale is run entirely by scouts and their parents. Each of Troop 634's 30 scouts works a couple of four-hour shifts per week and receives a small portion of proceeds for each shift and a small commission for each individual sale. If a scout earns enough to fully pay his camp tuition, additional funds raised are shared with other scouts.

Shane Bell, the troop's senior member, said he's unsure how many trees the scouts typically sell, but says the sale is always a success.

"I don't really know how much we usually make, but with each tree being sold at $50, we usually end up selling them by the end of the year," Shane said.

Scouting participation is intended to help kids have a good time while cultivating a strong morality, work ethic and leadership qualities. In Jon Bell's eyes, the tree and wreath sale is a perfect way to meet all these goals.

"The boys learn from it, the boys all come out and they work the sale, it's not just their parents doing it," Bell said. "It helps them take responsibility for their own troop.

"Scouting is about camping and doing fun stuff like that, but it's also about being self-sufficient. It's not just something you show up for once, and you pay your dues, and you go have fun. It's about working. It's about helping to instill values in them."

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