Alex Gill, a Boy Scout in Troop 35 at St. Henry’s Parish, decided he was going to help out needy students for his Eagle Scout project.
“Alex collected over 260 backpacks and supplies for Head Start children and needy children of Bayonne,” said Ana Quintela, executive director of the Bayonne Economic Opportunity Foundation, which oversees the Head Start program in Bayonne.
“I think this a very positive community story about a young boy who dedicated his summer to make sure the less fortunate children were able to have school supplies in September,” Quintela said. “Alex was able to get donations from not only local businesses but also several distributors.”
In order to become an Eagle Scout, the highest rank a Boy Scout can achieve, a scout must be active in the troop, demonstrate that he lives by the principles of the Scout Oath and Law in his daily life, earn a total of more than 21 merit badges in specific areas, and demonstrate leadership by organizing a community service project.
“Many people are in need of school supplies and have difficulty affording them,” Alex said.
This project was designed to help those people use their limited monetary resources for other things and still receive necessary school supplies.
“Every child should start off the new school year with new school supplies,” Alex said.
To accomplish this, Alex organized a drive to collect school supplies for those who have difficulty affording them. Collection points were set up at various locations, including several churches, around Bayonne. He also wrote to various distributors of school supplies, such as Staples and companies such as Jansport for backpacks and Thermos for lunchboxes to ask for donations. He reached out to friends, family, and local businesses, and worked with the Bayonne Economic Opportunity Foundation to distribute supplies to those in need.
“Many people are in need of school supplies and have difficulty affording them.” -- Alex Gill
Donations were collected over the summer and distribution started at the end of August and will continue into September.
Among the items collected included pens, pencils, crayons, highlighters, markers, notebooks, backpacks, lunchboxes, calculators, rulers, loose leaf paper, folders, and glue.
Although this is a community effort to gather supplies, he said, all he really needed was a small group of people to assist in the gathering of donations from all across town, and help sorting the supplies and delivering them to the BEOF.
When planning the project, he anticipated that the most difficult thing would be communication to all scouts in gathering items from the collections points and making sure everybody was on the same schedule.