Frankie Donovan, a Boy Scout with Troop 222 and student at Naperville Central High School, collected over 1,000 books for Head Start for his Eagle Scout project. Head start is a federal program that provides assistance to low-income children and their families.
"I would really like to thank the residents of the Walnut Ridge subdivision," Donovan said. "They gave us so many good books so we could help Head Start. And I would like to thank everyone who helped with my project: the scouts, the adult leaders, my parents, my sisters Kerri and Meghan and my brother Danny."
Donovan, 17, discussed his project, his scouting experience and how he stayed motivated in our Q&A below.
Can you briefly describe your project?
I gathered new and gently used children’s books for Head Start in Aurora. I developed and led a team that handed out flyers asking for help one weekend and then we collected and sorted the books the next weekend. Last week, we delivered the books to Head Start.
Why did you decide to do this specific project?
When myself and my brother were going to Riverwoods, we both had extra reading support. And as Danny, my younger brother, was getting the help now, I kept thinking, we are so lucky to live in Naperville and have the support we need to become good students, how do the kids and families that are not as lucky as us make it. When I started to think about my Eagle Scout Project, I started looking into groups that helped the less fortunate kids out there and Head Start was right here in Aurora. I called them, and they said they would be thrilled if we could help them.
What did you learn from doing the project?
That people want to help. It is Christmas time and we are all really busy but I was able to get so many volunteers to help with the project and everyone donated so much. It was kind of overwhelming how much people wanted to help.
Why did you decide to partner with Head Start?
When I was trying to figure who would be the beneficiary of my project, I had a really hard time as there were so many different organizations that did lots of good work. But when I managed to find Head Start, I thought it was a perfect fit.
What does the Eagle badge mean to you?
Only about 2% of Scouts ever become an Eagle Scout nationally. To become one means I have really accomplished something. No matter how long it took, I now know if I put my mind to something I can do pretty much do anything.
A lot of scouts drop out before they get to their Eagle project, what kept you motivated?
My family was always there to support me, letting me go on campouts and driving me to meetings which really helped. My dad once told me that anyone can start off strong but it does not matter unless you finish. I also had a lot of friends that become Eagle Scouts and that was very motivating too. Finally, the scouting leaders were so supportive that it was really easy to stay engaged even with so many other things going on.
Who was your biggest influence in scouting and why?
The older scouts were extremely helpful and supportive when I started out. They were really role models in scouting. I also was very lucky to have some great adult leaders from when I was a cub scout through today. Mr. Zavoral in cub scouts, Mr. Fitzsimmons, Mr. Beste, Mrs. Bayer, Mr. Gable and Mr. Hiegl, the current leader of Troop 222.
What is your best scouting experience?
This past summer I went to Philmont in New Mexico for over a week. We hiked and camped outside with no electricity, running water or any modern conveniences. It is the ultimate adventure for a Boy Scout. It was by far the best experience I had in Scouting.
What was your favorite merit badge and why?
The camping merit badge. I really enjoyed camping over the years. In addition to Philmont, I camped in Michigan and Wisconsin with the boy scouts, and numerous trips around Illinois.
What was the most useful skill you learned from scouting and how have you used that skill?
Cooking basics. I had no idea on how to even make pancakes but now I use this skill to make breakfast and dinner, at home and while camping. I also used it as a school project at Naperville Central to make a healthy pizza in gym class.
What was your favorite meal you made on a campout?
During the Philmont trip, the food was not very good. After a week or so, we would pretty much eat anything. On day 9 or 10, we had to make stuffing. Before Philmont, I never really liked stuffing, even on Thanksgiving but it tasted so good, now I love it.
If your troop was a species from the Star Wars universe, which would it be and why?
I was never a big Star Wars fan, in the Star Trek Universe, I would say the Klingons because they had such a high code of honor.