by Connor Nikolic
ECM Sun Publishers intern
Jose Romero proudly wore a secondhand uniform when he went to a national Boy Scout retreat in West Virginia last week, along with 252 fellow Scouts in the Northern Star Council of the Boy Scouts.
“I’ve gone to many summer camps, camping trips and years of Scout meetings since I started,” Jose, of St. Paul, said.
Jose is an active member of Scout Troop 9009. Despite living in disadvantaged neighborhood in St. Paul, Jose has been able to wear a uniform and go on trips thanks to fundraising activities and the generosity of donors who participate in the annual Scouting for Uniforms campaign, which is put on by Pilgrim Cleaners.
The Elk River location has only collected two uniforms and some neckerchiefs so far, but they will be accepting used Scout uniforms throughout the month of July.
A uniform normally costs $25, but Jose participates in an exchange program and gets uniforms for only $9. Most Scouts take two or more uniforms on a trip, so a $16 difference per uniform can have an effect on whether boys like Jose can afford to go on Scout trips.
“I’ve done the exchange since I started,” Jose said.
Jose’s Scout leader, Gustavo Lopez, said participating in Scouting has made a difference in Jose’s life.
“Jose was very shy a few years ago,” Lopez said. “But Jose has become very positive and is very excited (about Scouts).”
Lopez seeks out boys like Jose because he believes Scouting is a positive experience.
Pilgrim’s Scouting for Uniforms drive, with support from media sponsors ECM-Sun Newspapers and KARE 11, helps make that experience affordable.
The sixth-annual uniform drive continues through July throughout the metro area. Anyone with a used Scouting uniform can donate it. Cub Scout uniforms – the blue shirts worn by boys in first through third grades – are the greatest need this year. Boy Scout, Venturer and adult leader uniforms are also needed, as well as accessories such as belts, neckerchiefs and hats.
Uniforms and accessories can be dropped off at the Elk River Pilgrim Cleaners, 19112 Freeport St., during regular business hours, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Pilgrim will clean the uniforms and deliver them to the Northern Star Council of the Boy Scouts of America for distribution to Scouts in need.