Scouts seek corporate sponsors for massive Touch-A-Truck event

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Boy Scouts in Troop 31 Crompton and Cub Scouts in Pack 13 Centreville and Pack 17 Blackrock are searching for corporate sponsors to offset the cost of their massive Touch-A-Truck fundraising event set for Mother’s Day Weekend.

On Saturday, May 10, the Scouts will take over 53 acres of Quonset Point to hold a Touch-A-Truck event for kids and adults of all ages. The cost to attend will be $10 a car, and all event proceeds will go to the Rhode Island Military Relief Fund, which provides financial support to families whose loved ones are deployed overseas.

Also, in celebration of Mother’s Day, all mothers attending the event will be treated to a special surprise.

For help with planning their event, the Scouts turned to Warwick resident Jim O’Connell, who is serving as event coordinator. O’Connell is very involved with the community, and the Scouts have often volunteered at his events.

O’Connell is also known for putting together large Touch-A-Truck events; about five years ago, his event for the March of Dimes set the record for the largest Touch-A-Truck event in the country with 170 vehicles at Ninigret Park in Charlestown.

In a recent phone interview, O’Connell explained that the Scouts approached him about doing a fundraiser but were unsure of what organization or how to get started.

While volunteering at Cranston’s Spooky World this past October, O’Connell met a group of women who volunteer for Family Readiness Support Assistance and the Rhode Island Military Family Relief Fund.

“This organization is there to support the family while their family member is serving overseas,” explained O’Connell.

The Rhode Island Family Programs Office, which runs the Military Family Relief Fund, is not able to raise funds themselves; they rely on donations or events run by outside organizations such as the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts.

“I thought connecting the Scouts with the Army was the perfect match,” said O’Connell.

With their charity in place, O’Connell and the Scouts got to work reaching out to fire departments, police departments, construction companies, the military and anyone else with interesting equipment that kids may want to see up close.

The response was overwhelming, and the event has quickly grown. O’Connell explained the original plan was to host the event at Toll Gate High School, but it is too large and the move to Quonset Point was necessary.

“They’ve given me 53 acres and I’ve used every inch of it,” said O’Connell.

In addition to military vehicles, fire trucks, police vehicles and construction equipment, the Rhode Island National Guard will be displaying some of the equipment from the upcoming Air Show. Also, because of the railroad tracks at Quonset Point, O’Connell will finally be able to fulfill his dream of having trains at Touch-A-Truck; Quonset Point’s train and equipment from the Providence-Worcester Railroad, MBTA and Amtrak will be there.

According to O’Connell, a number of organizations have also stepped up to provide other means of support. A group of veterans who regularly volunteer at military events will be serving up sausage and peppers, French fries, hamburgers and hot dogs throughout the day with 100 percent of what they raise going to the cause.

The Rhode Island Patriot Guard, a group of motorcyclists that serves as an honor guard at military funerals, will also be there. Remax will even bring a hot air balloon and provide rides in exchange for a donation. Moving companies and racing teams are also showing up.

“If anyone has anything to show off, please bring it,” said O’Connell. “The invitation is out there for everyone.”

O’Connell explained Touch-A-Truck events appeal to both kids and their parents; he even recalls seeing a kid yelling up to his father in a truck that it was time to go home.

“Usually it’s the other way around. The kid was begging the father to get out of the truck,” said O’Connell.

With so many organizations ready to participate, O’Connell and the Scouts are now looking for corporate sponsors to not only offset the cost, but raise the final donation total.

The Scouts are providing two ways for companies to become sponsors. For a $100 donation, a company logo will be placed on the back of a T-shirt to be sold at the event. The front of the shirt will feature logos for Touch-A-Truck, Boy Scouts and each branch of the military. For a $500 donation, a company logo will be added to a welcome banner displayed at the event entrance.

Donations for corporate sponsorships will be accepted until April 4.

O’Connell admits the cost to hold the event is large, but items such as insurance, portable bathrooms and other odds and ends can be covered by these corporate donations.

“It’s not a very costly event,” said O’Connell.

The goal is to raise as much money as possible for the Rhode Island Family Relief Fund.

“When our guys are over there, these families loose a paycheck,” explained O’Connell. “With the Scouts, I thought this was a perfect fit.”

Donations can be sent by check made payable to the Rhode Island Military Family Relief Fund and mailed to Rhode Island Family Programs Office, c/o Lt. Col. Bruce Fletcher, 541 Airport Road, Warwick, RI 02886; please reference Touch-A-Truck in the memo line. Company logos should be sent to Lynn St. Germain-Lundh via email to lynn.stgermain-lundh.ctr@mail.mil prior to Friday, April 4.

Contact Jim O’Connell with any questions about the event or ways you can help by calling 265-6925.

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