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Published: Wednesday, 1/11/2006

Sylvania: Scout raises funds for Katrina victims

Ben Petro receives a Good Turn for America award presented by the Boy Scouts of America. Ben Petro receives a Good Turn for America award presented by the Boy Scouts of America.

The students' cheers and cries of "Go Ben" echoed off the walls at Sylvan Elementary School when it was announced that one of their classmates, Ben Petro, had received a Good Turn for America award presented by the Boy Scouts of America.

The fifth-grader was cited for following Scout principles when he decided to collect money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and was able to donate more than $100 for that purpose.

The hurricane hit parts of South Florida before churning north through the Gulf of Mexico in late August and flooding parts of Louisiana and Mississippi.

Kym Sloan, northwest district executive of the Erie Shores Council of the Boy Scouts of America, told the teachers and students that he was being cited for understanding that when you put on a uniform, it includes a responsibility just like that of a policeman or fireman.

The youngster said that on Labor Day he was just thinking of what he might do that day and decided that he'd collect funds for the hurricane victims.

"I could have hit the floor," said his step-father Jeremy Koster. "Not because he doesn't see charitable instincts, but, because it seemed to come out of nowhere."

The youngster got a container, put on his Cub Scout uniform, and Mr. Koster went along as they spent the next couple of hours in the neighborhood near Sylvan school going door-to-door.

"It took awhile because a lot of people were out for the holiday," but the Scout stayed with it until he'd collected more than the $100 mark in donations.

The award in front of the students and teachers at school was a surprise to young Petro, who didn't seem to think his actions were particularly noteworthy.

"I just thought it would be a good thing to do for those people," he shrugged.

He has been a Scout since the first grade and he said the importance of helping others is one of the lessons he has learned.

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