By Mark Iacampo, U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria - HohenfelsJanuary 11, 2016
HOHENFELS, Germany (Jan. 11, 2016) -- Every day on the drive to school, 15-year-old Tyler Grover passed the Hohenfels Thrift Shop. On multiple occasions, Grover saw quality items left piled outside in all types of weather, potentially ruining them.
"We have people donating on the weekends or after hours, and you'd see bags of things just piled outside," said Mary Donnigan, thrift store manager. "Tyler took it upon himself to say 'hey, the community needs a place to deposit these things so they are safe, and dry and out of the way.'"
"I just thought I should do something about it," Grover said.
The thrift shop resells the donated items to the community, providing a low-cost method for young Families and Service members to acquire needed or wanted items. The profits go back into the community with the Hohenfels Community Spouses Club providing grants and scholarships to local organizations and individuals in need.
As an Eagle Scout candidate with Troop 303 in Hohenfels, one of Grover's tasks is to complete a service project to help his community. Grover decided building a weather-proof donation bin for the thrift shop and potentially helping increase the funds available for those in need would certainly fit the bill.
According to the National Eagle Scout Association, Eagle Scouts collectively contribute more than 3 million service hours a year in completion of these projects, and in 2011 that number peaked at 10 million hours.
After pricing wood at a local hardware store, Grover opted on a less expensive and more environmentally-friendly solution - extraneous pallets.
"The entire community was helpful and supportive of this project," said Grover's mother, Shannon. "Once people learned that Tyler was looking for pallets, we were only limited by the size of my vehicle."
With the pallets collected, Grover then gathered a party of fellow scouts, as well as three members of the local Sergeant Morales Club. Under Grover's direction, the group disassembled the pallets, and painted the pieces with all-weather paint.
Efrain D. Garcia Jr., president of the U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria Sergeant Morales Chapter, learned of the project through an email from Grover who reached out to the club for assistance.
"I felt moved by [the email] because a young man was volunteering to give back to the community of Hohenfels, and what better thing to support a project such as this one," Garcia said. "This is about empowering our young people and showing them what the top one percent of the Army NCO Corps is about."
As construction began, Grover recruited two additional team members with building expertise, Michael Greller, German Kantina operator, and Armin Obwandner, a local builder. They drew up detailed plans based on Grover's concept.
As the frame took shape, the scouts screwed on the siding and the hinged-lid, adding shingles to waterproof the container.
The completed project was put into use at the thrift shop just in time for Christmas.
"I get goosebumps just thinking about it," Donnigan said. "I think we often go through life and people aren't really paying attention to where there's a need that maybe they could address, and the fact that this young man reached out to us to offer his help is really inspiring."
"That box is full almost every day," she added. "It is greatly appreciated by the staff of the Thrift Shop, and it's a real benefit to the community."