MAPLEWOOD, NJ — A trip to Manhattan with the South Mountain YMCA shaped Daniel Goldsmith’s life.
“As we headed toward Bryant Park, I saw a homeless man lying under some scaffolding, and I remember he had a sign saying ‘Please give me money … I am starving,’” Goldsmith said.
The experience moved Goldsmith to action. For his Eagle Scout project, the South Orange Middle School eighth-grader coordinated the massive food, clothes and toy drive at the Turtle Back Zoo in November and December. The undertaking, which involved hundreds of volunteers from dozens of organizations, resulted in the collection of 334 bags of winter clothes, 187 bags of toys, and 22,543 pounds of nonperishable food — enough to fill nearly four tractor-trailers — for people in need.
“We have no doubt that Daniel is transforming into a remarkable young adult. His impact is everlasting on the members of our community,” said Tommy Donaldson, director of school age child care and director of teen programming at the South Mountain YMCA.
Goldsmith was named the South Mountain YMCA’s Youth of the Year for 2017 at the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges’ annual dinner on April 12. The South Mountain YMCA is one of seven branches of the Metro YMCA.
“I want to help make the world a better place,” said Goldsmith, now an Eagle Scout with six palms.
Goldsmith, who turned 14 last month, has volunteered at numerous YMCA community events in the past three years, including Healthy Kids Day, the annual duck race and an outing for children with special needs to a rock wall climbing facility. Goldsmith, who lives in South Orange with his parents and sister, said he hopes to become a lawyer and perhaps serve on the U.S. Supreme Court one day.