Westfield Eagle Scout Collects Shoes for Hundreds of Homeless
Daniel Fitzgerald, a Westfield Eagle Scout, is a remarkable young man who has gone out of his way to help the homeless.
He recently launched a special project that involved a large group of scouts, volunteers, friends and church members to come to the aid of hundreds of homeless people.
“My project occurred in downtown Indianapolis, and it consisted of handing out new or lightly-used shoes to the homeless, washing and having a podiatrist inspect their feet and giving away new socks,” Fitzgerald says.
He added there were also a lot of events that had to take place before the downtown project became a reality.
“There were a shoe and sock drive to fund, we collected shoes and socks, and we established a showing of the items and recruited volunteers,” Fitzgerald says. “First, I made and designed fliers to show where shoe donation boxes were and organized a few collection dates for the shoes.”
The collection dates consisted of volunteer scouts and adults from Scout Troop 107. They went door to door in various neighborhoods asking for new socks or shoes that residents would like to donate.
“After the collection dates, I had to manage and plan some organization and cleaning dates,” Fitzgerald adds.
The cleaning dates involved inspecting shoes and separating the overused and low-quality shoes (to throw away) from the new and slightly used ones.
“The approved shoes were then cleaned and placed in a package with the same size pair of socks,” Fitzgerald says. “The bags were then organized via shoe size.”
Finally, the project date had to be set up. The volunteers’ jobs were assigned and preplanned based on a person’s age and job ability.
“We had foot washers, bin cleaners, shoe librarians, check-in people, a photographer, watchers (to ensure safety and communicate precautions) and gift givers (who would walk out to give the person their shoes and or socks),” Fitzgerald says.
The project had more than 200 combined hours of volunteer work.
“The volunteers collected hundreds of shoes and close to 1,000 pairs of socks,” Fitzgerald says. “I was helped by my family, many members of Troop 107, various church volunteers, friends and active members of the soup kitchen.”
Fitzgerald noted that the homeless community was overwhelmed with gratitude.
“They were thankful and very appreciative of the shoes, socks and doctor advice,” Fitzgerald says. “Many kids were ecstatic.”
Fitzgerald, a senior at Westfield High School, has been involved with the Boy Scouts for close to 11 years. He encourages a lot of younger people to get involved with the Scouts.
“I tell them to visit a troop because there are many troops in the Westfield area,” Fitzgerald says. “Find some friends or people you would want to be friends with. No matter what your age, you can join the scouts (you just might not be able to get Eagle). If you wanna get involved, there are many recruitment events.”
The Boy Scouts have provided Fitzgerald with many experiences that have taught him the steps and organization of leadership.
“The Scouts, and camping in general, reveals the amount of disconnect society has created between nature and the importance of the environment,” Fitzgerald says. “I believe that Boy Scouts is a great leadership and life preparation organization because it doesn’t start to teach or position you as a leader right away. Boy Scouts teaches the importance and role of a follower, and builds a developmental path of complexity and responsibility to achieve leadership status.”
Fitzgerald added that Boy Scouts has helped him explore events that he would never have been able to do before.
“Scouts isn’t just an organization that prepares you to survive in the wilderness,” Fitzgerald says. “Scouts is an organization that provides thousands of paths to educate and expose members to many career paths through the merit badge system.”