Patrick Kaltenbach, 17, of Newtonville, Mass., a senior at St. Sebastian's School in Needham and a member of the West Suburban YMCA in Newton, organized a volunteer effort in eastern Massachusetts that has provided close to 40,000 bags of microwave popcorn to U.S. military personnel stationed overseas. Patrick started his "TroopTreats" program after U.S. soldiers helped treat Patrick and other Boy Scouts overcome by heat and dehydration during the 2005 National Boy Scout Jamboree. "Back home, I recalled the soldiers' tales of relishing Boy Scout popcorn over a campfire, and an idea clicked," he said. "Why not help them relive those memories by sending popcorn overseas?"
After Patrick began his project three years ago, he solicited volunteer help from his Boy Scout troop and council, distributed posters and flyers, made speeches, sent out letters and e-mail messages, and participated in city fairs and open-air markets, telling all who would listen that each $1 donation could send a bag of popcorn to a service member overseas. He then arranged for a popcorn manufacturer to ship bags of corn directly to the USO in Washington for inclusion in its care packages for overseas troops. Since then, Patrick's efforts have expanded, and the Boy Scouts have begun a similar program on a national level. "TroopTreats started the way most things begin - with a simple idea and hope," said Patrick. "Nothing earth shattering, nothing great - just one outstretched hand meeting anotherchanging our world one person at a time."