At a conference eight years ago, Pete Puckett, assistant scoutmaster of Lake Highlands Boy Scout Troop 707, asked fellow scoutmasters how their Boy Scouts handled the dilemma of fundraising. Most seemed to concur that salty treats were the answer. “Everybody kept telling me, ‘Oh, we sell popcorn,’ or ‘popcorn’ or ‘we do popcorn,’” Puckett says. But he craved something more meaningful. “Then one scoutmaster from Utah said that they put American flags in people’s yards to raise support.”
Puckett was curious whether the flag idea would work in his neighborhood, so he brainstormed with Troop 707, which at the time included his sons, Conor and Mason (now both Eagle Scouts). The boys polled their neighbors to gauge interest, and in 2005 the Lake Highlands American Flag Project was born.
On President’s Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, July 4, Sept. 11 and Veteran’s Day, Troop 707 places 10-foot American flags subscribers’ lawns at dawn and retrieves the flags at dusk. Puckett designed a special sleeve for the flagpoles so that all the flags fly at the same angle. “The uniform look is aesthetically pleasing, and the angle is so that the flags will constantly wave,” Puckett says.
The first year only six neighbors signed up for the flags. As the boys worked to get the word out in the neighborhood over the years, so many people signed up that Troop 707 enlisted help from Boy Scouts-affiliated Venturing crews and nearby Troop 719 to post all the flags. This past year, more than 400 households signed up for the flag program.
“Scouting builds character … it’s terrific, but it’s not free,” Puckett says. With the help of the Flag Project, however, Puckett’s sons were able to attend camps — which range in cost from $300 to $1,000 — including the Sea Base High Adventure Camp in Florida, where they learned how to sail.
Although Puckett and other Scout parents have put in many man-hours helping their sons with the project over the years, Puckett says he still grows teary-eyed when people share what seeing the flags means to them.
One neighbor told the boys that the waving flags raise her spirits while her son is deployed in Iraq. Others simply feel proud of their country and their neighborhood’s united patriotism.
Puckett recommends taking a cruise down Greenfield Drive this July 4, where nearly every one of the 20 houses on the street will be flying our American flag.
Visit lhflags.org to register or to see if your house or business is within the bounds of the Lake Highlands Flag Project. Registration is $75 for the first year and $50 to renew annually.