Gabe Emerson

Photo by Carla Waters

Gabe Emerson of Watseka Boy Scout Troop 188 is working on his Eagle Scout project, which is collecting care package items for local National Guard members stationed overseas.

A local Boy Scout is helping military personnel as his Eagle Scout project, and the community can take part.

Gabe Emerson of Watseka Boy Scout Troop 188 has created “Operation Chaos — Christmas Care Package Drive” as his project.

Emerson, along with family members and others who have volunteered to help, are collecting items that can be put together as care packages. Those items will be sent to Company C, 1st Battalion, of the 178th Infantry Regiment, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team from Kankakee. That brigade is currently deployed to Afghanistan.

Emerson, a senior at Donovan High School from Beaverville, said he and his family know some people who are deployed with the National Guard unit and felt that the military personnel would appreciate the care packages.

“I like Christmas and I think that everybody should at least get something, no matter where they are, either at home or somewhere off in the Middle East,” he said.

The service project is part of the requirements needed to earn the Eagle Scout rank.

“As an Eagle Scout candidate, I am following in the footsteps of my brothers, Noah and Christian, who are both Eagle Scouts,” he said.

“We are collecting small travel size hygiene and snack items for the Christmas care packages,” he said, noting that the goal is to get packages to 70 military personnel.

Emerson said he has placed some collection boxes throughout the area, which people can place donate items in.

Those locations are the Watseka Public Library, Watseka; Iroquois Farmers State Bank, Beaverville; Kankakee Community College, Kankakee; Premium Specialties, Bradley; and Donovan High School.

Some items that can be used are baby wipes and travel wipes (unscented), AA and AAA batteries, playing cards, travel size, non-aerosol, unscented deodorant, disposable razors, hand sanitizer, lens cleaning cloths, lip balm, lotion, travel size mouthwash, cheese crackers, energy/protein bars, Gatorade drink mix in powder, packets, gum, tummies, hot sauce, ramen noodles, Slim Jims, tuna in pouches, travel size sewing kits, Frisbees, balls, journals/notebooks/notepads, and travel size First Aid kits.

It is estimated that it will take about $20 to fill a care package box, and people can sponsor a box or two if they wish by sending donations.

Checks can be mailed out to Boy Scout Troop 188 and sent to PO Box 95, Beaverville, Illinois.

Emerson and some helpers stood in front of Dollar General in St. Anne recently to collect items, which they said was successful. They plan to be visible at some other stores around the area between now and the final collection date.

They are collecting items until Dec. 5. A group will then package everything on Dec. 6 and get them delivered to the National Guard Dec. 7 so they can be distributed to the military personnel by Christmas.

The post office in Beaverville has already got the boxes for them to use, he said. Once delivered to the armory in Kankakee, the staff sergeant there will make sure the packages are mailed out.

Besides Scouting, Emerson is involved in several groups at school: band, choir, Scholastic Bowl, the school play, FA and National Honor Society. He is the son of Mike and Tina Emerson.

When he graduates from high school, he plans to attend Kankakee Community College and then transfer to a four-year university to finish his studies in environmental science or biology. He would like to be a conservation officer.

He has been in Scouting since first grade. He has enjoyed his time in Scouting, and has worked at Camp Drake for the past two summers, something he plans to do again this coming summer.