June 8, 2023

At Pax, a Tasty Donation From the Boy Scouts

Popcorn donated by the Boy Scouts is ready for NAS Patuxent River service members and their families to pick up. (Naval District Washington photo by Chatney Auger)

NAS Patuxent River’s active-duty service members and their families received a massive gift of popcorn, delivered last month from the National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

“Do a good turn daily” is the slogan of the Boy Scouts. And for the service members Pax River, that good turn arrived in the form of hundreds of boxes of popcorn.

“It’s not uncommon for Scouting organizations to donate to the military. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are both patriotic organizations, so donating to the military is something they like to do,” said CMDR James Kennedy, staff judge advocate for Naval District Washington, the Navy regional command that includes NAS Patuxent River.

Boy Scout organizations across the country sell popcorn as a fundraiser every August through November. It’s hugely successful, raising $2.5 million a year in the National Capital Area alone, said Jon Cartner, director of field service for the National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Donors who don’t want popcorn can make cash donations, and the Boy Scouts use some of the cash to buy popcorn for local military bases or units. Mr. Cartner said that they have given popcorn to the Marines at Quantico, the Army at Fort Belvoir, and the Coast Guard in recent years.

“These are donations received by local kids, and one of the things I pride ourselves on is that we make the donation locally, to military families and their communities that are located here in the National Capital Area,” Mr. Cartner said.

The 2022 fundraiser yielded $80,000 worth of popcorn for local military, and Mr. Cartner said this year was the Navy’s turn. He added that the Boy Scouts considered NAS Patuxent River as they have programs there and an educational partnership with the base.

“I was looking for a Navy or joint Navy base to donate to, and there are some great volunteers in the organization who are connected to this base,” Mr. Cartner said. “So making the donation to Patuxent River was an easy decision.”

He contacted the base in late October with the offer. Before the base could accept, however, it had to submit the offer to an approval process going all the way up to the Chief of Naval Operations staff.

Per federal law and Navy rules, any gift offered to the Navy must be reviewed and formally accepted by a designated official. Per those same Navy rules, the estimated value of the gift will determine how high in the chain of command the acceptance needs to go.

“People can’t just accept large gifts, but the Navy is all about it if you follow the right process,” said Jeffrey Sias, director of Fleet and Family Readiness at Pax River.

Mr. Sias worked with CMDR Kennedy and other officials to draft a letter and route it up the chain of command. The letter’s final stop was in OPNAV at the office of the director of Navy staff, who approved it in February, clearing the way for the popcorn to arrive on base within days of the Super Bowl.

From his office on the Washington Navy Yard, CMDR Kennedy reviewed the submission before it reached OPNAV and did his part to shepherd it from office to office. Mr. Sias credited CMDR Kennedy with being a great help throughout the process.

“CMDR Kennedy knew the process and knew some people along the way to help track it. He was involved in making sure we knew it was still moving forward. And he really made our job easy,” Mr. Sias said.

Once the popcorn arrived, NAS Patuxent River’s Command Recreation Committee took charge of distribution. The committee moved all the popcorn into a barracks building and designated two days for any service member to stop by and get their share.

“It’s like a drive-through, pretty much,” said NC1 Jannvernhal Banzon, Command Recreation Committee treasurer and command counselor. “If they want to pick it up on a certain day, they just message us, and a point of contact will be there to help them get the popcorn.”

NC1 Banzon said that the committee also delivered quantities of popcorn to locations around the base. These included the grounds and Electronics Maintenance Building, the Unaccompanied Housing Barracks, the Administration Building, the Chapel, and several others.

He estimates that the initial popcorn donation totaled around 360 boxes, and they have roughly 240 left over. He said that popcorn will be available for Service members to again this month, on March 22 and 23.

This article, written by Rick Docksai, was provided by Naval District Washington.

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