BY CONNOR NIKOLIC
SUN POST 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,” the St. Paul resident 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.
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 impact 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 Romero because he believes Scouting is a positive experience.
Pilgrim’s Scouting for Uniforms drive, in conjunction with media sponsors Sun Newspapers and KARE 11, helps make that experience affordable.
The sixth-annual uniform drive continues all of July throughout the metro area. Anyone with a used Scouting uniform is encouraged to donate it.
Uniforms may be dropped off at any Pilgrim Cleaners during regular business hours, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Visit pilgrimdrycleaners.com to locate the store nearest you.
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.
Uniforms can also be dropped off at the St. Paul Scout Service Center at 393 Marshall Ave., and the Golden Valley Scout Service Center at 5300 Glenwood Ave. between 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Cub Scout uniforms – the blue shirts worn by boys in first through third grade – 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.
If you don’t own a uniform but still wish to contribute, you may send financial gifts to Northern Star Council BSA, Attn: Kent York, 393 Marshall Ave., St. Paul, MN 55102.
Info: 763-231-7201 (Northern Star Council).