Around Miss Carly’s, a Rockford-based nonprofit that provides food and support to those in need, “go bags” or “blessing bags” are worth their weight in gold.
The organization is known for answering its door at all hours, even on its “off days,” to make sure people don’t go hungry or cold. More often than not, the person knocking on the door gets a hug, a sack lunch and a go bag.
The bags are filled with basic necessities — clean socks and underwear, deodorant, toothbrushes and other toiletries along with anything else a homeless person or someone who has fallen on hard times might need from a pair of gloves to Band-Aids.
So when Damian Harms asked Carly Rice what her homegrown charity could use in the months to come — something he could do for Miss Carly’s to earn his Eagle Scout badge — the answer naturally was go bags.
Harms, 17, of Rockton, ended up making 142 bags for Miss Carly’s, donating them to the organization earlier this month.
Each bag was labeled by gender and size and contains toiletries, a first-aid kit and a days worth of fresh, clean clothing.
“They are for anyone who wants to get off the streets,” Rice said. “When police bring me someone, and we have to put them up in a hotel, we come and get a bag. That’s what these are for — any emergency situation to enable a person to get somewhere safe and be okay.”
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Harms said the project was three months in the making and started with an awareness campaign on social media. Harms then placed collection bins in Roscoe, Rockton and South Beloit area schools, churches and libraries.
The Roscoe Middle School National Junior Honor Society made their own version of the go bags and donated those to the project, as well, Harms said.
He also got a big assist from his Boy Scout Troop 6222 of Roscoe.
“They helped a lot. They ran a lot of the donation drives. They put in a lot of hours for this project,” Harms said, along with Roscoe Cub Scout pack 6202.
Eagle Scout is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America program, an achievement that must be made before the scout turns 18. Since its inception in 1911, only 5% of Scouts have earned the rank.
Two major components of the Eagle Scout service project is identifying a project that will benefit the community and the scout demonstrating leadership of others in bringing the project to completion.
“That was a big challenge for me actually,” Harms said, “just trying to be present and lead the group whenever the donation drives or sorting drives were going on and making sure the kids had a job to do and just being thorough with it when we needed them to was a big goal for me.”
The project was a great experience with many lessons and rewards, said Harms’ father, Matt Harms.
“I’m proud of him,” Matt Harms said. ” He did a really good job at leading and delegating and making sure that things were in order.”
Chris Green: 815-987-1241; [email protected]; @chrisfgreen
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