James Kling wasn’t sure what kind of project he wanted to take on to become an Eagle Scout.
Many Boy Scouts hoping to become an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in scouting, complete a construction project – a bench or sign in a park, for example.
Kling, 14, decided on something a bit unique. He is collecting donations of money and food for a program at Wiley Elementary School that serves students who come from low-income families.
“I like the idea of helping little kids who don’t have enough food,” said James, an eighth-grader at Martin Middle School in Raleigh.
James has raised more than $1,200 toward his goal of $2,000 through the online fundraiser YouCaring. He uses the money to shop for nonperishable food items. Local stores, including Harris Teeter and Kroger, have also donated items.
Once every two weeks, James assembles some his fellow Boy Scouts with Troop 342, and they deliver the food to Wiley, a magnet school near downtown Raleigh.
On a recent delivery day, James and his friends, including his twin brother, Chris, organized ravioli, corn, fruit snacks, oranges and single packs of peanut butter intopiles. Teachers would then distribute the food to 29 students.
Sometimes, James said, the students are at the school during deliveries.
“I see the kids who get the food, and their faces light up,” he said.
Many schools have Backpack Buddies programs in which students who don’t have enough to eat on weekends receive donated food. At Wiley, the Cecilia Rawlins Fund was established in honor of a former principal to help students in need.
Cecilia Rawlins retired from her job as principal at Wiley in 2007, according to the fund’s web site. Rawlins aimed to ensure students’ needs were met at school and beyond, so the fund helps families with one-time rent payments, utility bills and more, including providing food.
James attended Wiley but didn’t realize the fund existed.
“I always thought that kids had food to eat, like I had,” he said. “It’s been a whole new experience.”
His father, James Kling, said he encouraged his son to do the food drive partly to show that some families are less fortunate. Kling works as a software engineer, and his wife is a financial project manager.
Kling said he grew up poor in Indiana, and he knew what it was like to be a kid on the receiving end of donations.
“I think this has really opened his eyes,” Kling said of his son.
Steve Yeakey, who leads Troop 342 at St. Philip Lutheran Church in North Raleigh, said he was pleased with James’s Eagle Scout project.
“This is what scouting is all about – giving back to the community,” he said.
Sarah Nagem: 919-829-4635, @sarah_nagem
Want to help?
To donate money for the food drive that helps students at Wiley Elementary School, go to http://bit.ly/1UGjQye.