West Point Pointer View, 4 December 2008
Scouts collect for Holiday Share and Eagle Scout project
Story and photos by Kathy Eastwood
The annual community Holiday Share program organized by the West Point Boy Scout Troop 23, with the help of Cub Scout Pack 23 and volunteers from Girl Scout Troop 192, delivered flyers and bags Nov. 16 to community housing areas asking for donations of non-perishable food and coats. Scouts returned to the housing areas and picked up the donations left on front porches or back doors of apartments Nov. 23.
Food was delivered to the Buffalo Soldier Pavilion and was sorted and stacked by cadets and Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers volunteers. The coats were delivered to Sacred Heart Church in Highland Falls and were sorted and hung by the scouts.
Although the Holiday Share program is an annual scouting project, the idea of donating coats along with the food was the brainchild of 15-year-old David Jaye, a student at James I. O'Neill High School, for his Eagle Scout project.
"I started working on this project late last summer," Jaye said. "We always ask for food donations, but I thought it would be a good idea for people to donate coats, too."
Last year's share program project was run by Alex Smith, who was working on his Eagle Scout project. Smith had been involved in the share program for a few years before actually organizing it for his project.
For Boy Scouts to attain the rank of Eagle Scout, they need to complete a project that will benefit the church, community or scouts, Jaye said.
"With an Eagle Scout project, the scout must get approval from the scouting council and the board of review for his project," Jaye said. "Once the project is a success, then you can become an Eagle Scout (if the scout also has the necessary merit badges.) The Eagle Scout project is a great way to get good leadership experience."
Boy Scout John Robert, 13, said he has been a scout for three years and has his eyes on becoming an Eagle Scout.
"I enjoy helping people and helping Dave with his Eagle project," he said. "I'm a Star now, the next step is Life and then after earning a few more merit badges and doing community service, I can become an Eagle."
Robert said a Star scout should have at least six hours of community service plus additional merit badges for such things as athletics and community service. There are 120 merit badges available and to attain the status of Eagle, a scout must earn at least 21 with 12 required badges in such fields as first aid, citizenship in the community, communications, fitness, personal management and Family life. Star, Life and Eagles all are required to complete merit badges, some kind of service and leadership roles, according to www.scouting.org.
The approximately 2,000 pounds of food collected will be donated to Soldiers, community, soup kitchens and food pantries. The estimated 500 donated coats went to the basement of the Sacred Heart Church in Highland Falls.
"The church's youth group will make a 'midnight run' to New York City to deliver food, clothes and toiletries to the homeless in the middle of the night when the streets are deserted except for the waiting poor," Jaye added. The church does the midnight run to New York once a year during the winter.
Jaye was extremely pleased with the outpouring of coats and food the scouts received from the community.
"Thank you for the generous food and coat donations in the recent drive. We received so many coats, we had trouble finding room in Sacred Heart Church. All the racks were filled and then some." he said.
"Thanks to the West Point community, many needy people have been helped this winter season, and for many winters to come," Jaye added. "The project can be called a complete success. Thank you again for your support."