Three Boy Scouts from Troop 2, Staten Island, NY arrived at Pine Ridge Reservation in early July to deliver 68 boxes of brand new, donated books to Donna Jumping Eagle for use at the Safe House. In addition, the three scouts built two wooden bookcases for Donna to use to display some of the books. The project was the brainstorm of 17 year old Boy Scout Brian Raleigh, who reached out to ONE Spirit Director Jeri Baker and Safe House Coordinator Gayle Aroian one year ago when a local bookstore in his Staten Island neighborhood was closing. “The proprietor told me she was going to throw the books in the dumpster after the store closed. I was shocked. That’s when I realized I could put the books to good use by donating them to the Lakota people,” commented Brian. “The next day, Brian told me he knew what his Eagle Scout Project would be. He wanted to rescue the books from the dumpster and donate them to the Lakota people”, Brian’s mom, Jeanne, remembers. So Brian organized fellow scouts from his troop and they boxed up 68 boxes of books, ranging from Shakespeare to classic novels and children’s books.
From there, Brian explored several avenues for delivering the books to the Jumping Eagles including sending them through UPS or recruiting a west bound tractor trailer driver. By February, Brian asked his parents if they could just drive the books there. “I thought bringing the books to Donna, meeting the Lakota and building bookcases would be the proper thing to do,” Brian recalled. Next, Brian organized three fundraisers to help finance the trip west: an ice cream social at a local ice cream parlor, a 50/50 raffle and a pancake breakfast. Finally, with school ending June 26, the trip was set to begin. While in South Dakota, Brian and fellow scouts Ryan Maumblow and Nick Urso stayed on the Pine Ridge Reservation, along with Brian’s parents, at Rosie’s Singing Horse Trading Post. After the project was completed, the boys got to ride horses with some of Billy Jumping Eagle’s grandsons. They also visited the Historical Center at Oglala College as well as the Massacre of Wounded Knee memorial site.
“This trip was enlightening and life changing,” concluded Brian, who expects to advance to Eagle Scout rank later this year.
Thank you to the Scouts of Troop 2, who gave this beautiful gift of service to benefit the Safe House. You have truly lived up to this part of the Scout Oath: "On my honor I will do my best... to help other people at all times." Thank you!