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Eagle Scout hopeful bases project on shelter's needs
HB eagle scout shelter1
Eagle Scout hopeful Christopher Bourque assembled and donated hurricane emergency kits and family preparedness DVDs, pictured above, to the Tri-County Protective Agency as part of his community project. - photo by Hollie Moore Barnidge / Coastal Courier
Christopher Bourque, a member of Boy Scout Troop 401, knows people driven from their homes by abuse have faced trauma. He hopes to lessen the trauma they would face if driven from their temporary shelter should a hurricane threaten the area.
During a small ceremony at the shelter Wednesday, the Hinesville teen presented 25 emergency preparedness kits to Tri-County Protective Agency Executive Director Paula Foerstel and her staff as part of his Eagle Scout community project.
"This is a first," Foerstel said. "I've been here since the shelter opened in 1988, and I've never seen anything like this."
The kits, each designed to last a family of four 72-hours in the event of an evacuation, were carefully planned, assembled and packed into nylon backpacks and tote bags by the scout during the past year. To get the necessary supplies, such as first-aid kits, drinking water, blankets, matches, whistles, heat packs, radios and tents, he solicited donations and funds from businesses throughout the region, some as far away as Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Bourque also gave the shelter 10 DVDs that demonstrate how to use and handle the items contained in each kit. Foerstel said she would keep the DVDs in the shelter's library where residents would be able to check them out for viewing.
Bourque said the venture actually morphed into a dual-purpose project, as it helped meet the needs of the protective agency and inspired many of his donors to acquire or prepare their own emergency preparedness kits in the face of the upcoming storm season.
Mostly, he wanted to let the shelter's residents know the community is concerned with their safety and well-being.
"My main purpose was to show the agency that there are people in the community who care about their needs," Bourque said. "We hope the victims will look at this as an expression of love."
Foerstel acknowledged that Bourque's message was evident in his hard work and kindness.
"This is a big help. Tremendous," Foerstel said. "We thank Chris and we're super-happy."
According to Bourque's mother, Michelle Bourque, who is also Troop 401's committee leader, the entire project contained about $1,500 worth of material. If purchased in a store or assembled by individuals, each kit would have cost between $75 and $300, depending on the quantity and quality of supplies.
The task constitutes the second and third phases of Christopher's Eagle Scout project. To complete the first phase, he obtained 1,500 brochures from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and distributed them in stores and businesses such as Wal-Mart and Lowes to promote emergency preparedness in Liberty County. To meet the requirements for the project's fourth phase, Bourque plans to draft and submit letters to local newspapers regarding the role teenagers can play in readying their families for hurricane season, which begins Sunday.
Bourque chose to undertake this endeavor because the concept embodied the Scout's well-known catch phrase.
"Be prepared," he said. "It's our motto. Always be prepared."
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