A young East Rockaway resident raised more than $10,000 selling popcorn for the annual Boy Scouts popcorn sale.
After raising the money, Joseph Petraro, 7, who is a member of St. Raymond Cub Scouts Pack 84, donated about $2,000 to help children whose parents cannot afford the membership dues needed to participate in the Boy Scouts program.
“Joe is phenomenal and he has the most sales out of all the Boy Scouts because he is very committed,” said Denise Shields, an East Rockaway resident who is the district chair of the south quadrant of Nassau County for the Boy Scouts, which encompasses Lynbrook, East Rockaway, Franklin Square, Elmont and other neighboring communities. Shields also serves as the lead volunteer in charge of Nassau County popcorn sales for Boy Scouts.
For the fundraiser, which happens once a year, boys ages 5 to 18 from different Boy Scout units sell popcorn from the Trails End Company. A portion of the money raised from popcorn sales goes back to the unit who raises it. Another percentage of the money goes to the Boy Scouts counsel to help fund the Boy Scout camps in Wading River and in upstate New York. A portion of the money raised by each unit also goes to Trails End Company. The Boy Scout members can also earn Amazon reward cards based on how much money they collect in popcorn sales.
“People fear public speaking more than death, but, this popcorn sale brings the kids out of their comfort zones and they have to communicate and get people to buy popcorn,” said Shields, who has a son who is an Eagle Scout. “This is helping the boys because they are learning valuable lessons, such as how to make eye contact when they talk with others and with their parents’ help, they are learning how to set financial goals.”
In order to raise thousands of dollars in popcorn sales, Joseph created videos to inform others of his fundraiser and posted them on YouTube and Facebook, where he has hundreds of followers. He also went door to door throughout his neighborhood, while wearing a mask amid the pandemic, to sell popcorn.
“I hope to raise more money next year … $20,000,” he said. “I hope to double it . . . My favorite part of selling popcorn is having something to do during the pandemic.”
Joseph said he credits his parents with motivating him to keep persevering to sell more popcorn.
“Even through the pandemic, Boy Scouts gives Joe activities to do, which means a lot to him because he’s an only child,” said his mother, Anne. “Boy Scouts prepares them for life. Joe used to be a shy little boy. But, now he is more assertive and involved because of Boy Scouts. He’s a very giving child.”
Joe’s father, Oswald Hyppolite, said the scouts have taught his son to have structure, leadership skills and how to work with others.
“I think I inspire him to do better and I always tell Joe to learn how to share, to be polite and to learn how to give to others because so many people are in need,” he said.
To learn more or join Boy Scouts, visit beascout.scouting.org.