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Hardware hero: Plymouth man wins 2-minute shopping spree

By JESSICA RAVITZ
The Patriot Ledger

PLYMOUTH - Raymond Burton walked into a hardware store yesterday and lived what other men can only dream of.
For two minutes, he was free to grab whatever caught his eye.
‘‘I'm limbering up as we speak,'' he said in front of Charlie's North Plymouth Hardware. ‘‘I've done the scoping out.''
Burton, 60, of Plymouth, was recently named the East Coast's grand prize winner for the Ace Hardware/Little League ‘‘Helpful Hero'' contest. As one of five winners from across the country, he was treated to the two-minute shopping spree at his local Ace Hardware store.
The honor for Little League volunteerism came after Burton's son, Jeffrey, 33, of Plymouth, heard about the contest and submitted an essay to nominate his father.
‘‘It sounded like a good thing to do at the time,'' Jeffrey said. ‘‘For all the years that he's put into the youth in this community, his love for Little League was a huge part of it.''
Signs outside Charlie's hardware store welcomed and congratulated Burton, a longtime customer.
A small crowd of family, friends, staff and customers gathered around inside to cheer him on.
The rules were simple: He could pre-tag one large item and snatch up to three power tools. He already had his eye on three - cordless drill, power washer and electric chainsaw - and was relieved a laser level didn't count as one.
But Burton, a retired training coordinator for the Plymouth County Sheriff's Department, wasn't just shopping for himself. He was looking for items to raffle or auction off at fund-raisers, too.
‘‘Everything he does, he gives it away to somebody,'' Judy, his wife, said.
In his 47 years of volunteerism with Little League, Burton has covered a lot of ground. He has worked concession stands, coached, painted fences, built dugouts. He has fixed holes in parking lots, conducted umpire clinics, and taught first aid and CPR to coaches.
‘‘I just caught that volunteer bug, and it's never left me,'' Burton said in a recent phone interview. ‘‘When I see a smile or get a thank you, it just makes me want to go back the next day.''
Burton, who still umpires, did pre-tag one big item for himself: a 6.5 horsepower lawnmower with a bag, which he'd wanted since the day he got back from a recent vacation.
‘‘The grass was taller than the sheep could have taken down in a week,'' he said.
He had to use a rake to pick up the clippings after tackling the mass of grass. Not anymore.
The carts were small, but the helpers plentiful. A team of players lined up to provide back-up support, empty carts in hand to follow Burton on his race through the aisles.
The clock started, and he was off in a flurry. It was a cloud of activity, a swarm of men on the move, boxes flying, tool names and brands being batted around like cheers.
Burton wiped his brow as store clerks rang up his free items and helped haul the loot out back to his black Ford Expedition.
Grand total of hardware snagged for free: $1,646.06.
Not bad for two minutes.
Paul Spear, a spokesman for Ace Hardware, an official sponsor for Little League, said there were about 140 entries submitted for this year's introductory contest. The other four regional winners will be racing through hardware stores in Kentucky, Texas, California and Florida.
What he got in 2 minutes:
—Electric chainsaw $69.99
—Circular saw $49.99
—Electric drill $69.99
—4-qt pressure cooker $69.99
—Leaf blower $27.99
—18-qt roaster oven $59.99
—6.5 horsepower lawnmower $229.00
—4-foot step ladder $39.99
—First-aid kit $14.99
—Pizzelle maker $39.99
—Laser level $33.99
—Bullseye laser level $59.99
—Pressure washer $99.99
— 29-piece wrench set $29.99
—3 or 4 smoke detectors at $9.99 each
—Carbon monoxide detector $59.99
—3 fire extinguishers $69.97
—Exacto knife set $15.99
—Drill bit driver set $24.99
—Vice grip pliers $14.99
—Power strips $12.99 each
—Channel lock pliers $16.99
TOTAL: $1,646.06
 

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I'm glad to see someone with a good heart and is always giving out get something like this Ray is great guy I had both him and his son While in the acadamy for all my medical stuff great family !!! way to go Ray
 

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Nice guy is right but I can remember him loosing it and chucking an eraser and going off at some talkative class mates (NPD) :wink: back at the reserve academy in 96. I was diligently writing something in my notes, looked up and saw the dam thing coming at warp speed. :shock: duck....

I think he was upset with us again after the class when we submitted the evaluation sheets...

Had him again in the Plymouth academy and he seems to be happier now after getting remarried. I am glad that he won the shopping spree to help further his cause.
 

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Major Burton did me a solid during my stay at the ole Plymouth Academy. If you are straight forward he sees it and is in your corner. He told us he was also the Academy Director at one time. A man of many hats. Mine is off to him and his posse.
 
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