Father’s wish propels Scout toward Eagle rank

schandler@newsobserver.comDecember 8, 2013 

For his Eagle Scout project, Shane Gamble of Hillsborough collected 6,500 books to donate to Worldwide Book Drive, an organization that distributes them to populations in need in the U.S. and in other countries.

COURTESY OF MARJORIE LARD

When Shane Gamble became an Eagle Scout recently, he was fulfilling two dreams: his own and that of his father, who passed away when Shane was 6.

Shane’s father, in his youth, had fallen just short of Eagle, the pinnacle achievement in Boy Scouting, and spoke of regretting it. So Shane was determined to complete his Eagle requirements as a tribute both to his father and to his own hard work.

Shane, who aspires to be a teacher someday, set out to pick a project that would do some good in the world as well as “tell the story of the person that I am,” he said.

He decided to host a book drive to share his love of learning with others.

“I kind of figured that most individuals throughout Scouting usually tend to choose more manual-oriented projects, such as building a shed or benches or flower pots,” he said. “But international awareness, especially that of education, has always been a topic that’s been very dear to my heart.”

Just down the street from his home in Hillsborough, near the local grocery store, Shane noticed a book donation bin labeled “Worldwide Book Drive,” and the Utah-based organization ended up being the beneficiary of his efforts. Shane, president of the Model U.N. club at Cedar Ridge High School, where he’s a senior, liked the wide range of books they accept and the wide reach of its donations, both in the United States and far beyond its borders.

He accepted donations on two summer Saturdays outside the Hillsborough Walmart and set up a donation box inside a Postal Connections store. Word spread through the project’s Facebook page and through fellow members of Boy Scout Troop 821, who passed out flyers, and Shane closed in on his 1,200-book goal after the first Walmart drive. In the end, he left that goal in the dust.

The final count was around 6,500 books, which made Shane very happy, he said, but “at the same time, it also brought up some problems.”

His plan had been to load the donated books into his troop’s trailer and transport them himself to a Worldwide Book Drive site in Atlanta. But at over four tons, stacked up on six pallets, it was far too big a job.

“I was just freaking out for the longest time,” Shane said, “and suddenly, at the very end of the book drive, I had a man call me.”

It wasn’t for more books to donate, like Shane expected. It was a man acquainted with Shane’s scoutmaster who happened to have a tractor-trailer rental business, and he was offering to haul the books on a truck bound for Atlanta.

“At that moment,” Shane said, “I was jumping up and down.”

It felt “amazing,” he said, to have completed the project and, soon after, to get his Eagle rank. And he thinks his dad would have been just as elated.

“He was a big reader. He always used to read to me when I was younger,” Shane said. “I know he would have loved it and I know he would have supported me the whole way through.”

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