Teenage boys aren’t known for their thoughtfulness, sensitivity and heartfelt way with words.
So the Salvation Army was taking a risk earlier this week when it put a half-dozen boys in charge of creating holiday cards for the 1,400 seniors registered to get gifts this year from the agency’s Silver Bells Christmas program.
The results could have been ... well ... a little strange, but leave it to a bunch of competitive Boy Scouts to try outdoing each other in wooing the grandmothers of Charlotte.
“Somebody, somewhere loves you and cares for you,” wrote Andy Kamath, 14.
“You make the world a better place,” noted Marshall Courtney, 15.
“More cheek pinching!” printed Austin Breed, 17, proving he was ready to go the extra mile in the name of holiday cheer.
The point, Breed explained, is to make seniors feel connected to the community on Christmas, and maybe make them laugh a little. “These cards are more meaningful than the presents they’ll get. You can’t purchase what we’re putting on these.”
Added scout Andrew Sun, 17: “Maybe it will make them a little less lonely.”
All four are members of Boy Scout Troop 118, which supplies 70 to 80 volunteers each season to help the Salvation Army set up its Christmas Center inside a former Walmart on Old Pineville Road.
This year, 12,200 children from needy families will get toys at the center, paid for in part with donations from Observer readers to the Empty Stocking Fund.
Troop 118, based out of St. Stephen United Methodist Church, does a lot of the grunt work, sorting gifts, creating banners and stuffing hundreds of stockings with goodies for needy kids.
This is the first year greeting cards for seniors were added to the boy’s duties. The Silver Bells program provides small gifts to low-income seniors who might otherwise be forgotten on Christmas. The Empty Stocking Fund covers the cost for seniors not “adopted” by donors.
Kamath, a ninth-grader at Providence High, added a little international flair to his cards, inscribing “Merry Christmas” in both English and Hindi. His grandparents live in India and he said it was them he kept in mind while writing.
“When grandparents get cards that say ‘people care about you,’ it can make them happy,” he said. “I hope I will make someone’s day.”
The more “creative” scouts from the troop were assigned greeting card duty, which aspiring mechanic Austin Breed took seriously. His cards eventually began to combine both messages and cartoons.
“You’re the ying to my yang,” he wrote in one, getting more confident.
“Merry Christmas from your friend up north,” he scribbled in another.
“Running right to your heart,” he said in yet another, sketching in a little stick man racing down a track to a big red heart.
There’s no telling who’ll actually get that card, but Breed says they should be prepared for an “explosion of happy.”
That’s sensitive and heartfelt, Boy Scout style.
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