Troop 12 needs growing room

The Boy Scouts of America Troop 12 is known in Lutz for its many good deeds.

Every year, troop members are highly visible at the Fourth of July parade in Lutz, an event that draws thousands of spectators.

But well before the parade begins, troop members are doing work behind the scenes.

Troop 12 often does community projects, including this cleanup at Lutz Elementary School. (Courtesy of Mike Ritchie)

Troop 12 often does community projects, including this cleanup at Lutz Elementary School.
(Courtesy of Mike Ritchie)

They stay overnight on the eve of the parade, near the Lutz Branch Library, so they can keep an eye on the vendor and exhibitor displays.

And, hours before the parade begins, the scouts help the GFWC Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Woman’s Club prepare for the festivities.

They also post dozens of American flags to help celebrate the nation’s Independence Day.

Pitching in for the Fourth of July celebration is just one example of the helpful nature of this group.

The troop’s community roots go deep. Founded in 1933, the troop is one of the oldest in the country.

“From its inception (the troop) has been involved in the community in many ways,” said Scoutmaster Jeff Potvin.

In recent years, the troop has experienced a spurt in membership and has outgrown its scout “hut,” near Lutz Lake Fern Road, off U.S. 41.

“If you’re having a regular meeting, it fits everything. But when they have ceremonies where parents come, it doesn’t,” said Bill Anderson, whose 14-year-old son, Jackson, is a member of Troop 12.

The troop has 57 members, including about 25 who joined just this year.

Part of the troop’s growth is due to Cub Scouts moving up. But the membership ranks exceeded expectations, said Anderson, a former Cub Scout master.

To address the space shortage, the scouts hope to add a new room to the existing structure that was built in 1997.

The expansion would provide additional storage space and a meeting room for troop leaders. It also would free up space for activities in the main room.

The estimated cost of the addition is $12,000 to $14,000, Anderson said.

The boys are working to raise money.

They have collected more than $1,000 from a “buy a brick” program and sales of popcorn at community events. Those efforts will continue. This year the troop also will sell food at the July 4 celebration, Anderson said.

To help raise more money, Anderson has launched a “Give ‘Em Room to Grow” fundraising campaign.

He started things off with a $250 personal donation.

The hope is that local residents and businesses will join the effort, Anderson said. Those who want to contribute can do so at DonationTo.com/Troop12.

The fundraising campaign’s goal is to raise $10,000 by the end of the year, Anderson said.

The scouts aren’t the only ones who would benefit from a larger facility.

“They also have other (groups) that meet there,” Anderson said.

“We try to use it for a community type facility without going overboard,” said Potvin, the scoutmaster.

For instance, volunteers meet there to plan for the Fourth of July celebration. The woman’s club and an art teacher instructing home-schooled children use the space, too.

Anderson sees the fundraising effort as a way to give back to a group that has been involved in many worthwhile projects.

Those projects have included planting about 4,000 trees on behalf of the Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Lions Club, doing a service project at the Veterans Memorial Park, and helping with the setup and tear down at the annual Lutz Arts and Crafts Festival, to name just a few examples.

“They are just very active in the community. And, they are very generous in letting people use their building,” said Phyllis Hoedt, a volunteer who has played a pivotal role for decades in many community projects and events.

Published June 10, 2015

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