Boy Scout Troop 52: Christmas tree sales history
December 5, 2017

Boy Scout Troop 52 has been selling Christmas trees for 49 years; it is the main fundraiser for the troop. It is estimated we have sold over 15,000 trees over the years; many Scouts have learned the basics of salesmanship, marketing, and commercial forestry through the Troop’s Christmas tree sales program.

Christmas tree sales were first introduced to the troop by the efforts of Ken Fortune, Assistant Scoutmaster and Ken Bovard, Scoutmaster in December of 1968. The troop purchased trees from a farm in Bentonville that first year and shortly after that we branched out and purchased some of our trees from the Rudacille farm.

During the first 20 years the troop bought the Christmas trees from various tree farms in Virginia and as far away as Pennsylvania. In 1979 Dr. Craig Zunka, a long time member and Eagle Scout from the troop, agreed that the Troop could plant trees on his farm in Browntown.

Depending on the variety of the tree it takes from 6 to as much as 12 years from the time a scout plants a Christmas tree and it is ready for sale.

Since then, Dr. Zunka has overseen the planting and care of the trees on his tree farm for the Troop. The number of trees the scouts plant every year as well as the number of trees harvested depend largely upon the weather and the type of trees.

The Scouts learned how to plant the seedlings, how to properly trim the different variety of trees and the need to keep the weeds from growing around the bases. Dr. Zunka maintains the mowing between the rows and spraying to reduce insect or disease damage to the trees in the summer.

The first tree sales were held on the “Weaver lot” across from the old Front Royal Volunteer fire station that was beside what was then our town hall. Peyton street now runs through where the Troop had its first tree sales lot.

It was just after the 1969 tree sales that Bill Ollinger, manager of the Safeway store in the Royal Plaza shopping center invited the troop to set-up the 1970 tree sales next to his grocery store and we have been selling trees somewhere on the property of the Royal Plaza shopping center ever since. The Troop has enjoyed and appreciated the support from the merchants in the shopping center that we have received for all these years!

All of the profits from our tree sales goes into the Troops operating account to pay for advancement awards and activities of the troop. We also pay for some of the Scouts cost towards summer camp.

This past year the troop covered just over $200.00 for each Scout to attend Boy Scout Camp and in addition the Troop covered the cost for the Scouts trip in June to a “rope course” in the southern part of Virginia. The Troop covers the cost of camping trips and other activities for the Scouts.

100% of all funds from tree sales go towards the program and equipment replacement.

See where & when you can purchase trees here: Troop 52 Christmas tree sales.

Submitted by Ronald “Hoss” Feldhauser, Warren County.

Chewbacca Miracle: Mom laughs her way to prayers answered
December 5, 2017

You probably saw the video: A young woman sitting in her car, dons a Chewbacca mask and laughs. And laughs. And growls. For about five minutes.

It was a moment so silly and fun that Candace Payne decided to upload the video to Facebook. Her friends got a kick out of it. Then their friends. And their friends and, by the next day, 24 million people were laughing along with her — a Facebook viral video record.
Payne told Guideposts that she hadn’t intended to put on a Star Wars Chewbacca mask that day. In fact, she was just going to buy some yoga pants. But when she saw the mask, she couldn’t resist buying it.

What she didn’t know then was that a silly mask and video would be the answer to prayers.
A stay-at-home mom, Payne spends most days making a home for her husband and their two children. He works as a warehouse manager and the kids are in grade school.

They were overdue for a family vacation and Payne’s own happy memories of Disney World loomed large in her mind. They just couldn’t afford to take the kids to the Magic Kingdom, not that year. So she prayed for this big thing: That God would make a way for her and the kids to go to Florida and visit Disney World.

A week later she was Chewbacca Mom and a week after that she got a call from, where else?…Disney World. They offered her an all-expenses paid trip for her family.

She burst into tears and so did the caller from Disney.

Her big prayer received a big answer and, later, sailing through the Small World ride, she tried not to laugh in amazement.

Disability doesn’t deter local volunteer
November 1, 2017

Thomas Arsenault believes “Everybody should do something in public service,” and if there is someone who could sit back and avoid becoming involved in helping his community, it is Thom.

Awaiting a heart transplant after a major heart attack forced him into retirement eleven years ago, Thom isn’t letting his disability limit his effort to serve his neighbors and friends. He is an active volunteer with Front Royal Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department (FRVFRD), where he spearheads the membership committee and assists with fundraisers.

Thom was not aware of the need in fire and rescue services for someone with his expertise until Harry “Junior” Kisner, asked him what he was doing with his time. After thinking about it, Thom realized he wanted to get out of the house and become involved in something meaningful.

Throughout his professional career in quality assurance with government contractors, he has developed an extraordinary skill for managing details, which helps support the administrative work of the volunteer organization. As an associate member of FRVFRD, Thom is reaching out to volunteers to facilitate participation in the company. Whether people are interested in responding to emergency calls, or just helping out with everyday tasks, he believes it is all a means for providing vital service to the community.

Thom serves because he “needed something to do,” and he would not let his devastating health situation “destroy” him. He noted, “I do it because who else is going to do it? I can’t think about my illness, if I’m doing something.” His public service ethic is lived out through his monthly volunteer schedule, and he shares this desire to help with others. Thom and his wife of 37 years, Glenna, must have made public service a family value as they have raised three children who all serve their communities in some capacity. Their son, Jeremy, and daughter, Stephanie, have both chosen careers in law enforcement, while their son, Andrew, is a marine.

Warren County Fire and Rescue’s motto echoes Thom’s sentiments: “If not me, then who?” “It takes more than just a few first responders to keep our local volunteer fire stations operational,” said Chief Richard E. Mabie of Warren County Fire and Rescue Services.

“Certainly, each of Warren County’s eight volunteer departments need additional EMS and firefighting personnel, but there are also ways to become involved that do not require rescue certifications,” Mabie added.

Volunteers like Thom assist with programs such as Bingo and fundraising dinners which help supplement available resources for emergency response. “If enough volunteers step forward to manage the fundraising and other non-emergency activities in local volunteer fire and rescue departments, firefighters and EMS volunteers can focus on responding when the community needs them most,” Mabie concluded.

For more information about volunteering, visit, or call Recruitment and Retention Coordinator Brenda Diehl at 540 636-3830.

She Brought Peaches
July 30, 2017

Today we kick off LifeSavor with an essay by Cathy Wolfe-Heberle. She is the C.E.O. of Blue Ridge Opportunities, which is a private, non-profit agency serving individuals with disabilities in Warren County and the surrounding areas since 1992.

She Brought Peaches
I don’t often write of my work, I usually keep the quiet joys to myself, but… He’s challenging, actually quite a bit more challenging that we have been used to, but the moment I met him I was hooked to the glimmer he has in his eyes. He’s spent the last 23 years being shunned and ignored and kicked out of program after program… or they just stopped showing up to provide services with no reason… His family has been struggling on their own for quite some time now that he is an adult and school age services are no longer available, desperate and tired. Very tired. They haven’t been able to keep staff and have been abandoned in most directions they turned. I doubted and I worried. I worried a lot if we were capable to meet his needs. He is rather intense, medically fragile and very dependent upon supports for all of his daily living skills. I told his mom after their walk-through interview… “I honestly don’t know if we can do it, but I am NOT willing to say NO because I have no idea. I’m willing to try.” I’m willing to try. I have to be willing to try. At the end of his first week, his mom talked to one of our staff with tears in her eyes talking about our program with the words “and they actually LIKE him.” Yesterday, she came to pick him up and brought us a box of peaches. PEACHES. She was so excited that she was able to pick and can PEACHES. A task that she could have NEVER accomplished without our care and attention to her son… a task she hasn’t been able to do in ages. Peaches. I actually LOVE him. I see him down to the core of his soul and he is so pure and innocent trapped behind a mountain of behavior that most people find off-putting… Today was day 7… and I ate peaches for dinner with joy and gratitude in my heart and the reminder that this is exactly WHY I do what I do. And it was they VERY BEST PEACH I have ever eaten. Thank you to all my crew for being willing to take the ride with me. We will not regret it.