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West Jordan Journal

Scout's Eagle project involved community partners to help animals

Feb 01, 2018 08:55AM ● By Ruth Hendricks

Porter Southworth shows many of the donations he collected. (Ben Southworth/West Jordan)

Porter Southworth, a sophomore at Copper Hills high school, recently completed an Eagle Scout project that he believes is somewhat different than most.

Many young men have earned the Eagle Scout award, which is the highest achievement in the Boy Scouting program. The accomplishment requires earning at least 21 merit badges and completing an extensive service project that the scout plans, organizes, leads and manages.

Porter has always loved animals; he has two dogs and has  raised rabbits and chickens. For his project, he chose to collect donations that would help the creatures at the West Jordan Animal Shelter at 5982 West New Bingham Hwy.

Most Eagle Scout projects help other people. “Not many Scouts want to do a project that benefits animals,” said Porter.  

Porter got approval from his Scout leaders, a manager at his local Smith’s Marketplace store at 5600 West 7800 South, a PetSmart store and Ascent Academies of Utah, a charter school serving students in kindergarten through ninth grade where his mother works as an aide.

Porter began by writing a project plan and got a list of what was needed from the shelter. The undertaking took a great deal of coordination between the Scouts, the school, private businesses and the shelter. 

During October, Porter went to Ascent Academy four Fridays in a row to meet with the third- and fourth-graders who got together for what they call a “cluster”. Porter’s mother works at the school and helped to coordinate with them. 

It just happened that the students were already talking about animals, so Porter made a presentation and asked for their help with his project. Porter printed posters for the students to color and put in stores and for schools to publicize the request for donations. Students also helped color pictures to decorate the collection boxes.

“For publicity, I designed and made 500 fliers, posted on social media and the school,” said Porter. “Plus, the whole Scout troop gave out fliers around the neighborhood.”

Ben Southworth, Porter’s father, was grateful for the help his son received, particularly from Smith’s, where a manager provided boxes to store the goods. 

“We recycled some campaign signs and made collection bins to set up by the checkout area at Smith’s,” Ben said. “Bruce at Smith’s was super supportive and welcomed the opportunity to partner in the effort.”

Porter asked for donations of pet supplies such as cat and dog food, treats, toys and also towels and blankets. Collection bins were set up at the Smith’s for about three weeks.

The effort resulted in 118 cans of cat food, about 500 cans of dog food, plus lots of dry food, kitty litter, toys, raw hide bones, animal shampoo and 140 blanket and towels. “There were over 300 individual donations,” said Porter.

On Nov. 14, Porter took all the collected items and dropped them off at the shelter. Workers there were thrilled and said they would put some of the supplies under the shelter’s Christmas tree.

Ben expressed gratitude for the donations and said it was impressive to see what people gave. Porter had asked for gently used blankets and towels, but most people gave new items. 

“Someone left the receipt in their bag of donations, and they had spent $170,” said Ben. “There were many big donations.” 

Some of the donated products were in bags from Smith’s, so Porter figures people saw the donation box in the store and gave in the spur of the moment. Others had gone to different stores to buy things and came back to drop them off.

Porter now has completed the requirements for his project and is waiting for it to be reviewed by the headquarters of the Great Salt Lake Scout district.

“I learned that a big project is not easy. It’s a lot of work, and you can’t do it alone. You need help from others,” said Porter.

Ben said of Porter, “He’s learned to delegate and lead. I like to hear that he realizes he can’t do everything by himself. This project involved so many aspects of the community.”