Local Eagle Scout builds blessings box

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Always have a Plan B.

Paul van Dyke is grateful he did.

When his initial Eagle Scout community project fell through and a deadline loomed, the Southern Wayne senior decided he’d stay the course.

“We were going to do something in Faison, like a community garden, but we didn’t have enough time because we had to get clearance for it,” van Dyke said. “My local church Thunder Swamp has a lot of nice people, but it’s a lesser-known church because it’s mainly older people that go there … not many people of varying ages.

“So I thought I’d do something for the church that would maybe help out the community.”

He decided to build a blessings box.

However, van Dyke had another dilemma. A multi-sport athlete for the Saints, he had to complete the project before April 6 and pass an Eagle Scout board review.

Before he could start the project, van Dyke had to write a proposal, create a plan, write a report section and fill out an application. Four signatures were needed for permission to start building the box.

That’s not to mention obtain signatures from his unit leader, Brian Bullard, and the pastor at Thunder Swamp.

“It was tedious, but it was what was necessary to finish it,” van Dyke said. “I did what I had to do.”

His parents drove him to find the materials needed to build the box. Steve Summerlin helped cut the wood to fit the dimensions.

Under Bullard’s supervision, van Dyke and his fellow scouts from Faison Unit 48 headed to Thunder Swamp on the Saturday before deadline. The remote location had little distraction and allowed van Dyke to complete the project within four hours.

The blessings box sits on a post outside the church.

It contains food for those in need. Van Dyke said he hopes community members will take time to refill it before — or when — it becomes empty.

“I’ve seen (it) in other places,” van Dyke said. “I felt relieved when it was done.”

A scout before he ventured into his teenage years, van Dyke said the experience he’s gained is invaluable. He’s learned how to communicate, cultivate friendships and become involved in the community.

Most importantly, through his parents’ guidance, he’s learned to juggle academics and athletics. He played basketball as a sophomore and junior, pitched three seasons on the baseball team and attempted tennis this spring.

Van Dyke plans to attend Wayne Community College and earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing. He hopes to continue his education at East Carolina University, pursue an associate’s degree in nursing and eventually work as a physical therapist.

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