I am still being inspired by the many sto­ries of what all the Scouts in Amer­i­ca were able to accom­plish as told in the book FOUR PERCENT by Michael S. Mal­one. It’s a his­to­ry of the Eagle Scout from the incep­tion to present day times, and the hero­ic and won­der­ful things they accom­plished (though I feel all who achieve the rank should be cel­e­brat­ed). 

Today, I hope to bring you back to two events, men­tioned in the book, involv­ing Scouts; the Great Depres­sion, which began in 1929, run­ning through the 1930’s, and World War ll, which the USA entered in 1940.

The num­bers and some phras­es are quot­ed direct­ly from the book, and it is about all scouts with Eagles help­ing to orga­nize and guide. It is also about the Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States rec­og­niz­ing the pow­er, num­bers and loca­tions of the great group called the Boy Scouts of Amer­i­ca.

The Great Depres­sion led to mas­sive unem­ploy­ment and hor­ri­fic num­bers of peo­ple liv­ing in pover­ty. The Boy Scouts were not a con­stant as many moved with their fam­i­lies to find work, or dropped out to find work them­selves. Pres­i­dent Franklin D. Roo­sevelt, how­ev­er, rec­og­nized the Scout­ing move­ment (with over 1 mil­lion mem­bers) as a means to help with the rebuild­ing of Amer­i­ca.

He called on the Scouts to help the dis­tressed and the needy. The result was called Nation­al Good Turn. Ulti­mate­ly, the­se Scouts’ actions led to the col­lec­tion of 1.8 mil­lion items of food, cloth­ing, house­hold sup­plies and fur­nish­ings. The Scouts moved from camp­ing to com­mu­ni­ty.

The threat of war actu­al­ly end­ed the depres­sion as the need for mate­ri­als ramped up. Unem­ploy­ment was no longer a threat, but many of the old­er Eagles were off to war.

Dur­ing the war, Pres­i­dent Roo­sevelt again turned to BSA and by the end of the war the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment had made 69 requests for assis­tance from the scouts.

They col­lect­ed spare tires for the much need­ed rub­ber and, in a two week dri­ve, col­lect­ed 30 mil­lion lbs. They plant­ed Vic­to­ry gar­dens, dis­trib­ut­ed pledge cards for war bonds, sav­ings stamps, vic­to­ry and air raid posters. They also col­lect­ed any­thing sal­vage­able for the effort. Scouts served as fire­watch­ers, emer­gen­cy med­ical per­son­nel, mes­sen­gers, and dis­patch bear­ers. The Eagles over­saw all this until they were called up to join the war. Many Eagles’ lives were lost in World War ll.

I am con­vinced of the pow­er of scout­ing. We have just passed through, and I still think we are in it, a state of anoth­er depres­sion. Many lost their sav­ings, incomes have fal­l­en, food is more expen­sive, employ­ment is hard to find. Chil­dren are going to bed hun­gry.

Although gov­ern­ment pro­grams help some, free food at school helps some, but sum­mer is com­ing and, in this land of plen­ty, over 15 mil­lion chil­dren do not receive ade­quate nutri­tion. Bring in the Eagles. Do you feel BSA could help feed the poor again?

3 comments

  1. jimbo GA says:

    Miss Joyce I enjoy your infor­ma­tion. I was told about this site thru a local coun­cil it is sad that only Utah can do this but hard enough with the loss of so many char­ter church­es . With the num­ber of scout down and eagle scouts down just not what it use to be 8 years ago.

    1. Michelle Carpenter
      Michelle Carpenter ( User Karma: 2 ) says:

      You’ll be hap­py to know then that this blog is not just Utah based. There are 13 coun­cils involved in this blog, and we hope more will join in! The decline is sad, and we hope to reverse that trend.

  2. Darryl Alder
    Darryl Alder ( User Karma: 8 ) says:

    Every year for the last 25 years our Coun­cil has joined with oth­er Scouts in a Scout­ing for Food Cam­paign, that brings in tons of food for the Utah Food Bank. Last year we pro­vid­ed fam­i­lies in need with 337,580 meals through just one day of ser­vice. So Pres­i­dent Roosevelt’s Nation­al Good Turn is alive and well in Utah.

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