Dallin Shepherd, 14, recently conducted a clothing drive in support of Haitian youths. The project will contribute to the local teenager earning Eagle Scout status.
By Johnny Jackson
Area scouts are making an immediate impression on the world around them, nearby and abroad.
In pursuit of their Eagle Scout status, two McDonough-area scouts have galvanized support to help clothe the needy. Jonah Hand organized a benefit last July through the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post No. 6330, in Jonesboro. Hand, now 18, said the benefit was designed to collect new socks and underwear to be supplied to patients at Veterans Affairs hospitals.
Dallin Shepherd, 14, coordinated an effort to collect gently used clothing items for the volunteer Christian ministry, known as My Brother's Keeper. The clothing, Shepherd said, would be sent to needy children in Haiti.
"Haiti kind of got pushed to the side, and the efforts to help Haiti were directed to Japan, to help them rebuild after the earthquake and Tsunami," said Shepherd. "And I didn't want Haiti to be forgotten."
Shepherd attends an online private school for grades K-12, called K12 International Academy. For about the past four years, he has been a member of Boy Scout Troop 291, out of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Stockbridge. There, he received most of the support for his cause.
With the help of his father, Shepherd learned of McDonough resident, Saudel Joseph, a Haitian native who maintains My Brother's Keeper. In supporting the organization, Shepherd understood he would also complete the Boy Scouts of America service leadership project requirements for Eagle Scout candidates.
The McDonough teen said he and his fellow scouts decided to gather clothing donations in various area neighborhoods, and give those items to Joseph for distribution on his next trip to Haiti.
The scouts spent one Saturday morning distributing flyers at homes, requesting donations of gently used clothing. "We ordered bags, and placed them on doorsteps in several neighborhoods," said Shepherd. "[The following Saturday,] we got more bags than we anticipated we'd get."
Shepherd said, once the donations were collected, the scouts and their leaders met at their church to sort and box the clothing. They prepared 288 individually bagged hygiene kits, comprised of toothbrushes, toothpaste, and hand soap.
"I like being able to help people, and scouting gives me that opportunity," he added.
Shepherd said he also solicited donations from local businesses and organizations, such as the Henry County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, in order to cover the cost of shipping the boxes to Haiti in June.
Hand's Eagle Scout project came in the form of an American Classic Car Show at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post, in Jonesboro. He prepared posters and flyers to advertise the show and the need for donations.
Hand -- who graduated, May 21, from New Creation Christian Academy in McDonough -- said he spent every weekend for months, finding car shows at which to pass out flyers for his cause.
The scout of 11 years was part of the 25-member Boy Scout Troop 62, sponsored by McDonough First Baptist Church, in McDonough. He said the troop turned out for him, and provided assistance at the car show. They helped set up, direct traffic, take registrations, and collect sock-and-underwear donations to be distributed at Veterans Affairs hospitals. He said admission to the show was a new pack of socks and a new pack of underwear.
"It was a success," Hand said. "We got rained out that day, and we still filled up the parking lot with around 100 cars."
Hand was able to collect more than 1,000 sets of underwear and a 1,000 pairs of socks despite the inclement weather.
"I enjoyed it," he said. "It's helped me improve social abilities and leadership abilities."
Hand expects to receive his Eagle Scout Award on June 4. A ceremony honoring his achievement is scheduled to take place at 2 p.m., at the Henry County Moose Lodge in McDonough. Shepherd said he expects to learn his Eagle Scout status sometime in July.
To learn more about scouting, visit the Flint River Council in the Tussahaw District web site at www.flintrivercouncil.org.