By Sue Moore
The Vicksburg Boy Scouts from Troop 251 have been collecting old newspapers since the late 1950s as a fundraiser for their activities and a community service. The collection effort has fallen on hard times, due to the discontinuance of some editions of the daily Kalamazoo Gazette according to Nadga Campbell, the scouts’ collection coordinator. The move to people reading on their computers or cell phones has also impacted their revenue, she says.
Thus the troop has reduced hours of operation from every week, to twice a month and recently to once a month. The collection is now on the first Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The demand for scrap newspaper has also fluctuated with the times. Currently Graphic Packaging delivers a trailer each month to the collection site on N. Richardson Street and picks it up, dumps the contents onto its ramp and processes it for making paperboard.
The 40 young people who are currently participating in Troop 251 are broken down into four smaller groups, patrols. The patrol leaders are responsible for organizing their patrol to work a shift schedule with four boys per shift and two adult leaders. Each patrol works three times a year, lifting donors’ papers into the large trailer—which many of them can barely reach or even see over the open end. They will rush to help people unload their cars or trucks, all the while thanking each donor.
“The total amount of money raised in 2014 was $1,477.50 for 53.32 tons of paper,” according to Campbell. The distribution of funds is 50 percent to the scouts’ patrol in attendance on any given Saturday, 45 percent to the troop’s general fund. Five percent goes into a relief fund that helps underwrite some individual scouts who might not be able to afford to stay in scouting with funds for uniforms, registration, and troop activities.
Campbell laments the drop off in collections, but believes it is still important as a service to the community. In fact, each month, a scout parent will drive to Kline’s Resort to pick up newspapers that are gathered by the residents there, so they don’t have to drive into town.
The scouts have also started to collect returnable cans and bottles as well as the tabs off the cans at the paper barn on N. Richardson Street, Vicksburg. “It’s just another way we can help recycle within our community,” Campbell says.