Scouts playing dodgeball at the Truman Memorial Building in Independence Saturday were doing more than having a good time. They were raising money and food for the Salvation Army and Harvesters.

The sheer violence delivered from a thrown dodge ball can knock a person unconscious, but the charitable effect can bring awareness.


Dozens of Boy Scouts converged on the Truman Memorial Building Saturday morning to raise money for the Salvation Army and Harvesters. Their means of doing so? Dodgeball – with a vengeance.


Bob Stockdell, scoutmaster for Troop 161, gave a small shrug of his shoulders and smiled when faced with the real possibility that any one of the scouts, some as young as 11, could suffer from a perfectly thrown ball.


“The kids like it,” Stockdell said.


Saturday’s event was the fifth time troops gathered to play dodgeball and raise some money for a charitable cause. The concept started five years ago following Hurricane Katrina, and money raised for the next two years went to that relief effort.


And since then it’s been nonstop. Last year the money raised went to the Mid-America Boy Scouts, specifically for the region and troop that suffered the loss of four lives following a tornado during a camping trip in Iowa.


All participants pay an entry fee and are required to bring a nonperishable food item. In the last five years, Stockdell estimates the Saturday event has raised about $6,000.


“It’s a good event and we’ve been pretty successful at it,” he said, though he said this year attendance was a little down.


This year’s recipients – the Salvation Army – has seen a drop in involvement, too, reporting shortfalls in volunteering and monetary and gift donations.


“With the economy, the way things are, it’s difficult for everyone,” he said. “We’re just hoping to do what we can.”


Joining Troop 161 on Saturday morning was Troop 347, and others difficult to name, according to Stockdell.


“There are a lot here.”


There was no grand prize, for age disparities discourage that. Instead, teams comprised of kids ages 11-13, 14-18 and 18 and over face one another on one of two courts inside the auditorium. Setting the balls in the center, competitors race out in the opening seconds, grab a ball, trot back to the wall and start throwing. Hard. Rules are basic and simple, but spectators are always amazed at how simple it looks from the seats and how hard it is in the crosshairs.


John Weiland came to watch his cousin get, as he called, “walloped on the head.” Two minutes into the session, he saw him, Ben, fall out from under his feet, the result of one coolly and quickly thrown ball. The boy lay on his back, laughing.


“See…” Weiland said and laughed.