Santa helpers sometimes wear Scout uniforms

Boy Scout Troop 637 Scoutmaster Perry Harris (left) and Boy Scout Luke Christman fill plates with cookies baked by the troop. The plates of cookies were delivered to residents of the Huntington Retirement Community on Tuesday, Dec. 13. The Boy Scout troop has held the cookie giveaway for around eight years as a way of saying thank you and bringing cheer to the Seniors living in the apartment complex.
Boy Scout Troop 637 Scoutmaster Perry Harris (left) and Boy Scout Luke Christman fill plates with cookies baked by the troop. The plates of cookies were delivered to residents of the Huntington Retirement Community on Tuesday, Dec. 13. The Boy Scout troop has held the cookie giveaway for around eight years as a way of saying thank you and bringing cheer to the Seniors living in the apartment complex. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

By the light of a full December moon, about a dozen non-elfishly dressed Santa’s helpers began knocking on doors Tuesday, Dec. 13, in the little Huntington Retirement Community, also known as the “Yellow Apartments behind Walmart.”

When residents opened their doors, they got cookies.

The “helpers,” more fittingly wearing khaki than red and green, were from Boy Scout Troop 637, which meets at Northview Church of Christ adjacent to the apartments. The boys have kept a yearly tradition of delivering home-made Christmas cookies to the residents — all over the age of 55 — for the past seven or eight years, as a way to say thank you to the community and bring a little Christmas cheer to the people living in the complex.

“A lot of people that go to this church, they are in the apartments, so there is that relationship with the church,” explains Scoutmaster Perry Harris. “This is kind of our way of saying thank you to the church, and providing a place for us to meet. They also provide the van that we use to go to scout events. It’s the church’s van, and we get to borrow it.”

After gathering at Northview, the troop sent out a scouting party to the Yellow Apartments to count the number of units — 55 in all — then, back at the church, they put together an assembly line of plates, filling them up with Christmas-themed cookies. Each boy provided three dozen cookies, some of them even baking them single-handedly.

“We made a bunch of different ones,” says Jordan Rockey, 12, who was proud the results. “My foster mom asked me if I was going to do the cookie thing and I was like, ‘Yeah.’ And then she said, ‘Well, you can come in here and make your own.’”

Lane Nightenhelser, 16, who received his Eagle award in October, has been part of the cookie giveaway every Christmas since 2011. He says the scouts earn no badges for the project, but the rewards are worth the effort.

“We just do this out of the goodness of our hearts,” he says. “I know that some of them don’t often see their families, and we try to be a family-oriented group. We just want them to feel like we appreciate them being there, and make them feel welcome.”

Trey Harris, 17, who has been in scouting since first grade, also enjoys greeting the residents with cookies every year.

“It feels pretty nice, because they (the Seniors) don’t always come to the door, either due to the fact that they’re asleep at this time, or they just can’t get up right now,” he says. “But when they do answer the door, and we tell them ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holidays,’ I know a lot of them are really appreciative, and it emphasizes that yes, this is a good thing that we’re doing.”

After piling plates of cookies into the Northview van, the boys take the short route, sprinting from the church to the apartment complex and wait for the van to come by, grabbing plates and heading to each door in the neighborhood. If the resident doesn’t answer, they leave the plate by the door.

One of the scouts’ grandmothers, Shirley Fuhrman, met her grandson at the door and thanked him for the special delivery.

“They sure do look good this year!” she exclaimed.

Another resident, Janet Perkins, says she loves getting the goodies, but the boys may actually get more from the exchange than the Seniors.

“I think that is a lovely gesture,” she says. “I also think that it teaches kids to share. It’s teaching them some responsibility to the older generation.

“I give the youth credit for doing something like that. We have too many kids running around doing nothing, or not doing worthwhile things. And I hope that the kids get credit for it … Most of us are late 70s, 80s or 90s. We have a lot of widows that live here, so it’s something nice to show to them, because many of them, their families aren’t close here. It’s just kind of a nice thing to remember them at Christmastime.”