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Alexandria High School Student Evan Kinsel Focuses Eagle Scout Project on Aiding the Unhoused

Cold weather kits being assembled (Photo by Les Machado)

Alexandria, VA – When Evan Kinsel began brainstorming about his Eagle Scout project – the capstone of his Boy Scout experience – he considered “whether it should be something built or something given.” The 16-year-old knew that two scouts in Troop 133 had recently focused on “something built” for their Eagle Scout projects, including upgrading a community garden and a basketball court.

Evan Kinsel (Photo by Les Machado)

Kinsel settled on “something given” for his Eagle Scout project. On Saturday, February 24, that brainstorming session resulted in over 60 people assembling in the Alfred Street Baptist Church multi-purpose room to package 1,000 cold-weather survival kits for the unhoused in Alexandria and the District of Columbia.

Contents for cold weather kits (Photo by Les Machado)

“I worked with Deacon Vernon Hammett and Scoutmaster Bryan Nails, and we identified the Harriet Tubman Women’s Shelter, the Mitch Snyder Shelter, and the Carpenter’s Shelter as organizations we would support,” Kinsel said. “But when I decided to increase the commitment from 500 to 1,000 kits, we also took some of the kits directly to the unhoused in the McPherson Square area of DC.”

Each cold-weather survival kit contained an emergency thermal blanket, thermal socks, a winter hat, gloves, a scarf, 10-hour hand warmers, disposable washcloths, soap, toothpaste, and toothbrushes. Volunteers also assembled lunch bags containing sandwiches, chips, and fruit, and they collected feminine hygiene products.

Scoutmaster Nails, who has been affiliated with Troop 133 since 2012 and has been the scoutmaster since 2023, said that he was not surprised that Kinsel decided to focus his efforts on helping others. “He is a very motivated young man,” Nails said, “who epitomizes so much of the Boy Scouts; he is trustworthy, helpful, courteous, kind, cheerful, and reverent.”

Lunch bag assembly (Photo by Les Machado)

Deacon Hammett echoed these sentiments, noting that Kinsel was “jovial and upbeat” throughout the project’s many planning stages and that it was Kinsel’s idea to focus his project on the unhoused. Hammett said that, while the Alfred Street Baptist Church donated approximately $2,800 for the contents of the first 500 cold weather kits,  Kinsel raised more money through odd jobs to fund the remaining 500 kits and the 250 lunch bags.

Volunteers assemble cold weather kits (Photo by Les Machado)

Before volunteers began assembling the kits and lunch bags, Kinsel, a National Honor Society and the Math Honor Society member at his high school, thanked the other scouts, students, and adults for turning out on an early Saturday morning. Kinsel noted that he was supported by so many others in the community throughout the process, including the church, his family, and other scouts.

Volunteers pack lunch bags (Photo by Les Machado)

Eagle Scout is the highest rank attainable in the Scouts BSA program division of the Boy Scouts of America. In the Boy Scouts’ history, only about six percent attain the rank of Eagle. In addition to the Eagle Scout project, a scout must earn at least 21 merit badges, including required badges in first aid, citizenship in the community, citizenship in the nation, citizenship in the world, communication, and personal management, and must demonstrate leadership and service. Notable Eagle Scouts include Hank Aaron, Neil Armstrong, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Walter Cronkite, Gerald Ford, Bill Gates, John F. Kennedy, Michael Jordan, Martin Luther King Jr., and Steven Spielberg.

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