Project aimed at teaching leadership by showing appreciation for troops overseas
By Jonathan E. Coleman
At his home off Roberta Road, 16-year-old Lance Hunter has boxes of small American flags that, in the coming weeks, are destined to travel halfway around the world as a show of appreciation to military men and women serving overseas.
The mass mailing of flags is the culmination of a project Hunter is working on in an effort to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest honor awarded in Boy Scouts of America.
Part of earning the Eagle Scout rank entails completing a leadership project in your community. Hunter said that while many scouts hold projects at the local level, he wanted to do something with a larger scope.
After doing a little research, Hunter learned about the Pocket Flag Project. To date, the Pocket Flag Project has delivered more than 1.1 million flags to men and women serving on the front lines.
In 2002, shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Pocket Flag Project was conceived by two Boy Scout leaders who were also veterans who served in Vietnam and Gulf War. Both men carried small folded American flags in their pockets, and expressed how much the flags meant to them.
Now, the group solicits the help of volunteers who purchase and fold the flags and send them to the troops. Each flag is folded and placed in a small plastic bag with a note that reads: “A flag for your pocket so you can always carry a little piece of home. We are praying for you and we are proud of you. Thank you for defending our country and our freedom.”
That’s where Hunter comes in.
“I’m hoping that the troops will know that we care for them and we support them,” Hunter said of why he decided to get involved. “The message for other people is that this is easy to do. It’s $70 for 300 flags, and it brightens people’s day.”
Hunter has called on family, friends and businesses in the community to help raise money to pay for the flags. To date, he’s raised enough money to purchase nearly 3,000 flags.
With the help of members of his troop, Troop 83, Hunter will fold each flag and prepare them for shipping. Brown & Miller Racing Solutions, where Hunter occasionally works, agreed to cover the shipping costs of sending the flags overseas.
His next challenge is finding units serving on the front lines interested in receiving the flags.
Hunter has already e-mailed Marine Wing Support Squadron 374, which is currently serving in Iraq, and is preparing a shipment for that group.
“That’s something else I’m going to need a little help with,” Hunter said of finding units to send the flags. “I’m going to have, at least, 3,000 flags.”
While he admits to being ready to have the project behind him, Hunter said organizing his own Pocket Flag Project has taught him a great deal.
“I’ve become much more organized,” he said. “I have to keep all my donations in check. I had to mail 65 letters out. It’s teaching me how to do projects like this in the future.”
• Contact Jonathan E. Coleman at 704-789-9105.