Boy Scouts support Northfield seniors through sand deliveries

  • Joseph Kirley, 12, and Otis WaggenBeek, 11, of Troop 9 in Northfield, MA, deliver sand to Northfield resident James Dinsmore, 94. December 28, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz...

  • Joseph Kirley, 12, and Otis WaggenBeek, 11, of Troop 9 in Northfield, MA, deliver sand to Northfield residents. December 28, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz...

Recorder Staff
Thursday, December 28, 2017

NORTHFIELD — Dressed in matching Troop 9 sweatshirts, 12-year-old Joseph Kirley and 11-year-old Otis Waggenbeek approached a brown house on Lucky Clapp Road. Working together, the two waddled up to the door carrying a white pail full of sand.

James Dinsmore, 94, opened the door with a smile on his face and thanked the two Boy Scouts profusely for their charity.

“It’ll be well used,” Dinsmore said of the sand.

Despite frigid, single-digit temperatures on Thursday, Otis and Joseph, both of Warwick, delivered the final four pails of sand to Northfield seniors, ensuring they’d have what they need to make their icy driveways and walkways less treacherous.

“With weather like this, they really like having a bucket (of sand) by the door,” said Council on Aging Director Heather Tower, who annually collects a list of residents who need sand delivered. “Getting to pick up sand, for some folks, just isn’t possible.”

Tower said she worked with the Boy Scouts to coordinate sand deliveries for the first time last year, after one of her board members read about a similar program elsewhere.

“I just immediately thought of the Scouts,” she said. “I thought it’d be a great opportunity for them.”

Tower considers the arrangement a win-win: the Boy Scouts engage with residents and perform community service, while the seniors feel comfortable knowing their driveways and walkways will be safe for not only themselves, but their visitors.

“It teaches us to be helpful and generous,” Joseph said, reciting the Scout oath, which involves helping other people at all times. “It helps a lot of senior citizens.”

Joseph’s mother, Tracey, said when her son first got involved in the Boy Scouts, she thought it would be an outing club for boys, but discovered Troop 9 offered much more.

“I didn’t realize it taught these life skills, like how to be a good citizen, how to cook, basic first aid,” she said. “We’re hooked. We love it.”

Tracey Kirley got involved with the sand deliveries, too, driving the boys to about 30 Northfield houses in her Honda Odyssey throughout December. Though the original plan was to finish all deliveries during A Special Day in Northfield on Dec. 9, some pails the Scouts had left at the Transfer Station, where they pick up the sand, went missing, which prolonged the process.

“We had to scrounge around town for more pails,” Kirley said. She suspects residents simply thought the buckets, which were donated by Mim’s Market, were free to take.

Delivering sand, she said, is a rewarding process the Boy Scouts look forward to each winter. Tower said deliveries may be scheduled earlier in future years so seniors can be prepared for winter weather sooner.

“Some say ‘Thank you,’” Otis said of the sand recipients.

“And some say ‘Merry Christmas,’” Joseph chimed in, adding how the seniors have given them popcorn, granola bars and other snacks in return.

Jean Kozlowski, 90, said she’s thankful for the service because she lives on a hill that grows icy and treacherous during the winter months. While she could travel to the Transfer Station for sand, Kozlowski said the bucket is too cumbersome for her to lift alone.

“I was so thankful to have had (the sand),” agreed Jeanette Tessier, 79. “When the first snow came, they had just delivered it. I was really happy, happy. … It’s a great service.”

Northfield seniors interested in receiving a pail of sand can contact the Senior Center at 413-498-2186, or residents looking for sand of their own can pick some up at the Transfer Station on Caldwell Road.