Help is needed to keep the flags flying

By Pat Sunderland


Camping, hiking, knot tying ... all are part of the Boy Scout experience and activities the scoutmasters of the three local troops feel very comfortable guiding.

They're less confident when it comes to organizing fundraising efforts for the Flags for Delta program.

Boy Scout Troops 475, 481 and 485 take turns posting flags along Main Street and Highway 92 for major holidays beginning with Mother's Day in May and ending with Veterans Day in November.

In the past, this patriotic community tradition has been organized by business leaders, with the scout troops providing manpower. The business leaders handled the administrative aspects of sending out solitication letters, tracking payments, maintaining the post office box and making sure the tags are current on the flag trailer.

Joel Butzin, Troop 475, said the number of business administrators has dwindled over the years, until two or three years ago the last individual dropped out and the scoutmasters found themselves in charge of administering the BSA Flags for Delta program.

"We do fires and knots," said Kurt Roithmayr, assistant scoutmaster of Troop 485. "We're in over our heads as it relates to collecting money or asking the business community to help out."

Traditionally, businesses have been asked to donate whatever sum of money they deem appropriate to keep the flags flying, but in recent years solicitation letters have not gone out on an annual basis and contributions have dwindled. Late last year, letters were sent out requesting donations for 2015 and 2016. Of the 300 mailed, only 30 generated a response.

For this reason, the troops approached the Delta Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors and suggested business leaders again step up to help run the program.

The scouts pledge to continue posting the flags. In return, they receive $100 per holiday -- funds that are used for troop activities and summer camp. Money is also set aside for trailer maintenance and to repair and replace flags and poles as needed. Several years ago, one of the scouts replaced all the wooden poles with steel as his Eagle Scout project (no more splinters). Another teen is looking at trailer maintenance as his Eagle project.

Roithmayr said the boys gain a sense of patriotism from the public service endeavor. They also gain an understanding of the specific holiday they're honoring with the American flag. "The kids definitely draw from the experience," he said. But the community effort extends beyond the scouts and their leader, he added. "Everybody in the community draws from the posting of the flags," he said, "and we want the community to understand where we're at with this."

Tax-deductible donations may be mailed to PO Box 401, Delta CO 81416. For more information about the BSA Flags for Delta Committee, call Joel Butzin, Troop 475, 970-874-5425; Bob Kinderknecht, Troop 481, 970-424-2939; or Stacy Suazo, Troop 485, 970-399-3390.