Nakia Medeiros, a Pilgrim senior and Boy Scout with Troop 49 Lakewood, is tired of the stereotype of homeless people being thought of as “dirty and scrubby.” After speaking with his troop leaders, Medeiros decided he would collect bathroom and toiletry items and donate them to the Rhode Island Family Shelter in Warwick as part of his leadership project to earn his badge and become an Eagle Scout.
“I want to show that they are people like anyone else, and also to help stop the spread of disease and illness,” Medeiros said. “I was listening to another Scout talking about collecting clothes and I thought about other necessities that people need, like keeping clean.”
Items Medeiros is collecting include the following: deodorant, shampoo/conditioner, soap (shower or hand soap), toothbrushes and toothpaste, razors and shaving cream, toilet paper, tissues, towels, hand cloths, and cash donations will also be accepted.
I’m hoping to get as many items as I can,” he said, adding he’s thinking of expanding the collection time to a month from the originally intended span of two weeks.
Medeiros said he wanted something unique, something different than a food drive because they are more common. So far, the only drop-off site is at the Lakewood Baptist Church, but Medeiros hopes to add to that.
I’m working with Wal-Mart and the Warwick Mall to set up a collection box at the customer service desk,” he said. “Getting businesses to respond and get involved has been the most challenging part so far.”
Medeiros described the process as “interesting” and said it’s involved a lot of communication between businesses and managers. Although he hasn’t received approval to leave a box at the mall yet, he’s not giving up so easily.
“I hoped to have Warwick Mall on board, but big chains have other things in mind,” he said. “Our motto is ‘Be prepared,’ and I can’t just stop there, so I’ve looked at other places to get involved, such as Wal-Mart.”
Medeiros said he also plans to talk to additional popular places people go to every day, as well as places where items are easily accessible, such as CVS, Walgreens and Target.
When asked why he decided to donate his items to the R.I. Family Shelter, he said there’s a connection between the shelter and his troop.
“Our troop did another Eagle project to help them out years ago,” he said. “Plus, it helps get the word out about the shelter and makes them more popular.”
Medeiros said his favorite part of the project so far has been meeting Nathan Law, the facility and IT manager at the shelter, and getting to see the shelter itself.
“Meeting the owners and director of the shelter was great. They’re really nice people,” he said. “They told me the items they’re in need of.”
Medeiros said leading the project has been a new experience for him but a valuable one.
“I think the Eagle project is an essential part of proving you can be a leader,” he said. “I’m responsible for leading the project and making sure everything gets done.”
Once the items have been collected, Medeiros said he plans to construct health care kits by assembling the items together in zip-lock bags and distributing them to families at the shelter.
“I will involve the whole troop in packaging the items together and then me and the older Scouts will deliver the items,” he said. “I’m planning to deliver the items sometime in late April or early May.”
Medeiros said he hopes once people hear about his collection drive, they will want to help and get involved.
“I appreciate any support and donations that I get,” he said. “It will benefit a good shelter.”