Over 40 Boy Scouts took time out of their Jamboree Thursday to take part in cleaning up the grounds at Jackie Withrow Hospital in Beckley as part of the Messengers of Peace program.  

Boy Scout Troops 2320 out of Ohio and 1338 out of Pennsylvania worked together to plant flowers, weed, remove vegetation, clean and paint the area around the hospital. 

Bill Bitterman, Scout Master of Troop 1338, said part of being a Boy Scout is giving back to the community, no questions asked. "We want to teach the boys the importance of giving back and help them realize it's important to be thankful for what you have."

Bitterman said many civilians outside of Boy Scouts will thank them for their community service work. "They don't realize they don't have to do that. This is what we were built around doing. We do this because it matters. This isn't about us; it's about something bigger.

"A woman actually stopped by the hospital and brought us bags of candy to thank us," Bitterman said. "I told her it wasn't necessary, this is what we're supposed to do, but she thanked us anyways. The people here are wonderful, and seeing the impact it has on the community and the Scouts is great." 

As Scouts spread out all over the field in front of the hospital, they all had a job to do. Whether it was raking grass off the sidewalk, staining a gazebo or pulling weeds, they did so without complaints. 

Gareth Evans, 17, Senior Patrol Leader over both troops, said community service is something he loves doing. "It's all about going that extra mile. It doesn't take anything out of our day because this is what we do. This is our job, and we love doing it." 

Evans said he will continue doing community service for as long as he can. "I love it, I do it to see the smiling faces." 

"I'm not from West Virginia, so I don't know all the people here, but I'm sure the people associated with the hospital are glad we are here to help," Evans said. "At the end of the day we all work together, pitch in, and get the job done." 

Connor Grooms, 13, of Troop 2320, said community service is something he is used to. "Yes we do it a lot, but it's fun. I like doing projects like this through Boy Scouts, but also with mission trips at my church." 

Grooms said working for the Beckley community is exciting for him. "It's definitely hot out here, but I promise it's all worth it. I'm glad this hospital gave us this opportunity." 

The many community service projects the Boy Scouts will be doing throughout the Jamboree are part of the Messenger of Peace program designed to make a difference in communities throughout the country. 

Michael Nicht, 13, of Troop 133, said the program is dear to his heart. "I've never been to the Jamboree before, but as a Boy Scout, community service is something I really love doing." 

"I feel really great when I help other people, there's nothing like it," Nicht said. "I'm glad we got to come to this hospital and work in this community. I actually really like it so far." 

As Boy Scouts walked up the center sidewalk of the hospital property, they worked together to determine what they believed needed special attention. 

"The hospital actually provided us with a list of things they wanted done," Bitterman said. "But we all determine what areas we believe need special attention, and it's really great seeing them all work together." 

Bitterman said although their troop's community service will be completed for the week after Thursday, service does not stop there. "Boy Scouts will always be based around giving back to the community, and we are glad we got to help this local hospital." 

— Email: jnelson@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @jnelsonRH 

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