GLEN RIDGE, NJ — Dylan Blue and Elijah Bushue, two Glen Ridge Boy Scouts from Troop 855, became Eagle Scouts on Monday, June 12, in a ceremony at the Glen Ridge Women’s Club. Both spoke at Glen Ridge High School last week about the community service projects they completed to become Eagle Scouts.
Blue, a senior at GRHS, collected animal toys, canned food and blankets for cats and dogs following the fire at PAWS Animal Shelter in winter 2015. He said approximately 50 to 60 animals occupied the shelter at the time.
“Luckily none were killed in the fire,” he said at GRHS last week. “Practically all were fostered by families and adopted.”
Blue, who said he had a special affinity for animals, especially dogs, wanted to take in a foster dog, but said “there was a long line of people who wanted to foster the following day of the fire and we were too late.”
He started planning his Eagle Scout project during the spring after the fire at the shelter.
“I’ve always been a lover of animals and very open about animals in my house,” Blue said. “Given more time, my father and I, with the hurricanes knocking out power lines, we wanted to work with the council on power management. We wanted to create a database for every power grid in town,” he said. “We wanted to give a number to every pole. Given enough time, I would have liked to have done this.”
However, once his mother told him about the animal shelter fire, Blue decided to do something for the animals instead. The hardest part about his project was getting out the word out to solicit donations, the teen said. Four collection bins were set up — one each at the high school, Ridgewood Avenue School, the Glen Ridge Train Station and Fitzgerald’s, where the Scout is employed as a food runner. The bins, custom-built by Dylan and his father, were set up for three months, with the collection ending in September 2016. He said the bin at Ridgewood Avenue School collected the most donations.
“A bunch of my old teachers told their students they’d get extra credit if the brought something in,” Blue said. “I had kids assigned to check them,” he said. “We had towels — stacks and stacks of towels and blankets.”
A total of $170 was also collected and this was used to purchase pet food for the shelter.
Bushue, a junior at GRHS, came up with a different Eagle Scout project. He began to plan his project in June 2016 although he did not have an idea yet as to what it would be. The project sat over the summer, he said.
But in early September, his father came into the kitchen, looked at what the family had set aside to be recycled, and said half of it should not be recycled. Bushue said this gave him his idea and he started fundraising in October to create door hangers made out of thick cardboard, with a flyer attached that informed residents what can and cannot be recycled. The hangers were made by a local printing business.
Among the items that should not be recycled are bottle caps and lids, paper towels and wax-coated cardboard, as from ice cream containers. A total of 2,500 hangers were made and 2,300 were handed out, door-to-door. Every borough home received one.
“What struck me about my fundraising,” Bushue said, was that I was using Go Fund Me. I thought I’d get $20 or $30. But I raised over $500. A lot of money.”
Go Fund Me is a way to raise money on the internet. The money is donated by anyone interested in an idea. Of the total amount raised, Elijah said he received $400.
“The money went to printers fees for the hanger being cut and the flyer attached,” he said.
He also had 20 laminated and 20 non-laminated posters made that included recycling information; several hang in the GRHS lobby.
As with Blue, all the Boy Scouts helped out, as well as the high school Key club and the Girl Scouts. In February, every Glen Ridge home received a hanger. The ones that were left over were given to the Glen Ridge Recycling Committee.
Both new Eagle Scouts said their projects received the full support of Troop 855.