Eagle Project Delivered Hope

August 4, 2014

Student Owlcolades

Preston Roberts, left, and Zachary Klinke in 2012 with friends at the Ronald McDonald House of Memphis, where they delivered Bears of Hope

Preston Roberts, left, and Zachary Klinke in 2012 with friends at the Ronald McDonald House of Memphis, where they delivered Bears of Hope

Concern for a young friend in the hospital prompted Preston Roberts, now a senior, to bring him a plush dog for comfort. The year was 2008, and the friend was Zachary Klinke, now a sophomore, who underwent treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for Burkitt’s lymphoma and has been cancer-free for six years.

That experience inspired Roberts’ Eagle Scout project, called Bears of Hope, providing Build-A-Bear stuffed animals to St. Jude patients and their siblings staying at the Ronald McDonald House. He coordinated with several businesses to give him discounts or donate items for the endeavor and raised thousands of dollars. He also recruited friends from Troop 55 – including Zachary and his brother, senior August Klinke – to help stuff and distribute the plush friends. Patients and their brothers or sisters could pick a pre-printed prayer of hope or write their own to put inside the stuffed animals.

The project garnered Roberts the 2012 Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award, given annually to the top 100 Eagle projects in the country. The Bears of Hope project expanded to other children in need, and earlier this year, Roberts used the last money collected for his project to provide bears for children at Binghampton Christian Academy.

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