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W.Va. Boy Scout attempts to collect 10,000 food items for Eagle Scout project

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When Isaac Abdalla sets a goal, it's usually a high one.

The 13-year-old has a 4.0 GPA at Stonewall Jackson Middle School, where he also plays five varsity sports. He's earned 46 merit badges in the two years since he became a Boy Scout.

So for his Eagle Scout project, he also set a high goal. The seventh-grader is attempting to collect 10,000 food items for the Mountaineer Food Bank.

"It seemed like something good to do," Isaac said.

If it were anyone else, Scout Master Matt Blackwood might have been concerned.

But since it's Isaac, Blackwood is confident he'll get it done.

"When he has a goal we don't have to worry about it," Blackwood said. "He'll accomplish it."

Over the course of the troop's history, 40 scouts have earned the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank attainable for Boy Scouts.

Isaac is on track to become one of the youngest in the troop's history, Blackwood said.

"It will be a major accomplishment in my life," Isaac said of earning his Eagle Scout ranking. "It's just something special that not everyone gets.

"It will make me feel like an extraordinary person," he said.

Scouts typically are 15 or 16 years old when they reach the Eagle Scout rank, Blackwood said.

"If he's not the youngest, he's probably one of the two youngest," he said.

Isaac started planning the project in January and began meeting with leaders at local schools and churches in mid-February. One day he took a day off of school and talked to 20 schools and four churches.

He's also gotten to speak at a few churches, starting with his church -- Saint George Orthodox Cathedral, in front of a crowd of about 400, Isaac said.

At first, public speaking made him nervous, now he's more used to it. He recently gave his talk to a church without his notes, which he had forgotten, he said.

"It was just a real interesting experience," Isaac said.

Eighteen or 19 area schools are helping by collecting food items, he said.

Before Saturday, when he collected items at the Ashton Place Kroger, Isaac had collected a little under 4,700 items. He has until April 15 to collect the rest.

"I'm also going to the Bigley Avenue Foodland on the first Saturday in April so I'm hoping to get a good turn out there too," he said.

Isaac's father, Kevin Abdalla, has been helping out with his son's troop since Isaac started in the Boy Scouts.

When Isaac was a Tiger Cub Scout as a first-grader, he and two other boys collected 1,200 cans of Silly String to send to soldiers in Iraq, who used them when they did house-to-house searches. Houses where the string hung in the air had trip wires in them, Abdalla explained.

"He's been involved with this sort of stuff since he was little," Abdalla said.

It was Abdalla who suggested to his son that if he wanted to become an Eagle, he should earn it sooner than later.

Isaac made his mind up to earn it before high school and now he's set to meet that goal before eighth grade, Abdalla said.

And Abdalla said he was not surprised to hear that Isaac is trying to meet the "huge" goal of collecting 10,000 food items, he said.

"That's my son," Abdalla said.

If you'd like to help Isaac reach his goal, check with your Charleston-area church or school to see if it is collecting cans for him.

A few of them that are: Emmanuel Baptist Church, Saint George Orthodox Cathedral, Stonewall Jackson Middle School and Kenna Elementary.

Isaac is collecting the food items through April 15. Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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