For Evan Gill, it wasn’t enough to finish his Eagle Scout project, get his badge and move on.
He wanted to make sure he was helping people, and he wanted to put something in place that would endure after he’d done his part.
Toward the end of 2010, Evan, then a 13-year-old at , hatched an idea: team up with the Moorestown Fire Department—and specifically family friend/neighbor/assistant fire marshal Ken Schweiker—to , while educating the recipients on fire safety.
On the surface, the program was a means for Evan, now 15 and entering his sophomore year at , to earn the highly coveted Eagle Scout ranking, which requires a Boy Scout to carry out a community service project. But there was much more to it than simply getting a piece of cloth pinned to his shirt.
“I wanted to have a program that really helped people—where I could talk to people and help them out,” he said. “Putting up a smoke detector is saving someone’s life.”
Evan fundraised with a bowling night at Pinsetters in Pennsauken so he could buy the fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors, and, over the course of the last year and a half, accompanied firefighters as they distributed free smoke detectors—donated by Kiddie, a fire safety manufacturer, and Channel 6-ABC—to Moorestown citizens, particularly the elderly and disabled.
Evan visited nearly a dozen homes and installed 15 to 20 smoke detectors, as well as several fire extinguishers and CO detectors. He said the recipients were “very grateful.”
He could have stopped there—handed out some fire safety equipment and educated a few people. Boom. Done. But Evan, an eight-year veteran of the Scouts, saw a chance to continue the program, to “give younger Scouts an opportunity at community service hours.”
A partnership between the Boy Scouts and the fire department seemed natural, he said. And so the program will be an ongoing effort between Evan’s Troop 44 and the department for years to come.
“It makes me feel really, really good,” he said.
Once he turns 16 in the next few months, Evan said he plans to become either a junior firefighter or a volunteer EMT.
Evan will be formally recognized for his achievement of the Eagle ranking—an honor less than 10 percent of Scouts achieve—during a special ceremony at 3 p.m. Sunday at the .
It’s been a long journey, Evan said. “In the long run, it’s definitely worth it.”
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