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Demopolis Boy Scout aims to ‘Unpack Hunger’ with Eagle Scout project

Caring for others is one of the core values of the Boy Scouts of America, and one Boy Scout took that value to heart and set out to help his community.

Samuel Blankenship, a Demopolis High School senior and a member of the local BSA Troop 41, took on the task of providing over 150 meal packs for Linden High School students facing food insecurity. The project, titled Unpack Hunger, is a service project for the BSA. It provides individual snacks and canned meals to students that need them. It is provided anonymously through school guidance counselors, and students can pick the packets up at the counselor’s office. Service projects are a requirement for the Eagle Scout rank, the highest attainable rank in the Scouts BSA program of the BSA, and this project is a step towards Blankenship earning the rank.

Samuel Blankenship with just a few of the items that are provided to students through his “Backpack Buddies” Eagle Scout project. The food used in the project was donated or purchased using donated funds.

The project began two years ago when circumstances arose that put Blankenship in charge of caring for himself and his younger sister for a period of time.

“My mother was sick, and there were days that I was responsible for making sure that I fed myself and my little sister,” said Blankenship. “After that, I realized there are people who wonder how and when their next meal will come, and that their situations don’t always resolve themselves as mine did. So I reached out to Jared Adair, the athletic trainer for Whitfield Regional Hospital, and my mom on how to supply food to students in need.”

Blankenship believes that this project came at the right place and the right time and has allowed him to help a lot of struggling people.

“It was different from some of the projects that many of the scouts I looked up to had completed,” said Blankenship. “It took a while to get the plan together for my Eagle service project, but that extra time and attention allowed me to work with more established Backpack Buddy Programs, and ultimately, put us on the exact path of helping when it was needed the most.”

Marnise Stevenson, the counselor at Linden High School, is very thankful for the project as there were several students in need of help.

“The Unpack Hunger project has been very impactful for our community, especially in these times with the pandemic,” Stevenson said. “Samuel saw that there was a need for supplies, and he was able to step in and fill that need. I’m very grateful for what he is doing.”

Pat Smith, the Scoutmaster for BSA Troop 41, was impressed with Blankenship’s efforts despite the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Members of BSA Troop 41 work together to fill the packs for delivery.

“I was very impressed by the effort he put into this project under the current conditions. He moved forward despite the outbreak and got everything lined up,” Smith said. “He worked with his fellow scouts, other adults, and members of the community to get everything prepared for distribution. I am very proud of him.”

Blankenship says he enjoyed each component of watching his project come together.

“I felt a great sense of accomplishment knowing the scouts with Troop 41, and the leaders had worked very hard to get the food to these students,” Blankenship said. “Unpack Hunger has proven to me that finding a way to help others can help you feel better during hard times. I think we are all learning as we go with the current crisis, but finding helpful ways to reach out to others, while remaining 6 feet apart, has helped me to realize there will be better days ahead.”

Blankenship is the son of Robert and Melissa Blankenship.