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by Dana Fjermestad / New York Islanders
The New York Islanders and the Theodore Roosevelt Council of Boy Scouts of America teamed together yesterday to celebrate the beginning of the Boy Scouts popcorn fundraiser.  1,500 scouts, parents and leaders attended the rally held at the Nassau Coliseum.

“I think the kids were really excited,” said Head Popcorn Kernel Donald Panetta.  “The event was to get the cubs and scouts pumped up to sell popcorn.”

The rally also included an appearance by defenseman Radek Martinek, who gave a speech on the importance of leadership and encouraged the scouts to participate in their pack’s fundraiser. 

“The kids were thrilled, it was great to be near a real Islander,” said Panetta.

The annual popcorn fundraiser raises money for troop programming.  Up to 70% of all proceeds go directly to the Nassau County Boy Scout Councils to fund pack sporting events, adventure activities and family programs.  The money also helps support two local Boy Scout camps that many boys attend during the summer. 

In the past, the rally has been held at a much smaller venue, however, Panetta, a New York Islanders fan, felt the event could have a much larger impact with the help of the Islanders Hockey Club. 

“When I came (to a New York Islanders game) last year, I wonder if the Islanders could hold the event for us,” said Panetta.  “We approached (the organization) and they were more than happy to become involved.”  The Islander’s involvement helped to triple the rally’s attendance from last year.   

Joe Malerba, Popcorn Kernel of the Rough Riders District felt the teamwork between the two organizations was great. 

“Bringing the scouts together with the Islanders, makes for a great event.  It’s for a good cause and I think the kids will remember it.” 

The Theodore Roosevelt District hopes that they can do more with the New York Islanders in the future. 

“It was really fun and I want to do it again,” said Mathew Malerba, 8, Pack 382. 

Already in the works is an overnight event scheduled on Nov. 6th.  The event gives scouts the opportunity to sleepover at Nassau Coliseum and watch movies on the big screen.On Saturday, before the start of the Islanders Preseason Game against the Devils at Nassau Couliseum, the Boy Scouts of America held a Pop Corn Rally.

Notes and quotes from the event...

Donald J. Panetta, the Head Pop Corn Kernel of the Theodore Roosevelt Council gave some quick comments on the event, and how it turned out.

On the event…
Theodore Roosevelt Council of Boy Scouts of America, our biggest fundraiser is selling popcorn.  Or as I like to say, we don’t sell popcorn, we sell scouting through popcorn.  So today’s event was to get the cubs and the scouts to really pumped up to sell popcorn.  Get them really excited to sell popcorn.  It’s a great product and scouting is a great institution.  I just love it.

On BS getting involved with the Islanders…

We were looking for a place to hold our rally and I really love the Islander, I am here all the time.  When I came here last year, I thought “I wonder if they can do it for us?”  And we approached them and they were more than happy too. 

On what the kids thought of it…

I think the kids were thrilled, it was great to be near a real Islander.  To just be here on the ice.  I think they were really excited and pumped up. 

On what the parents thought…

Parents were all excited too, about popcorn.  And excited about being with their sons and just being involved.

On popcorn sales…
70% of proceeds goes directly to program right here in Nassau County.  We have two camps we support.  We have a lot of overnights and programs and activities.  70% of proceeds goes directly to support all of those activities. 

Go Islanders and buy popcorn!

Mathew Malerba age 8, pack 382

On the event…
It was really fun and I want to do it again. 

On his favorite things about Boy Scouts…

You get to get a lot of badges.  I have too many to count.

Joe Malerba (Mathew’s Dad) Popcorn Kernel of Rough Riders District

On today’s event…
It was a great turn out.  It was something I think the kids will remember.  Its all about a good cause.  Bringing the scouts together with the Islanders, makes for a great event. 

On his involvement with Boy Scouts…
I am very involved.  I am the pack chairman and the Pop Corn Kernal for the Rough Rider District. 

On being a family event…
This is a family event.  Scouting is not about being an individual scout, it is about families and bringing families closer together. 

On future Islander Events…
Definitely, we already have one lined up in November 6th.  The scouts will be sleeping on the ice.  Doing an over night.  Watching movies.  We hope to get the Islanders involved in our individual event such as the Jamborie coming up in October at Eisenhower Park.

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