By Scott Carlson
As a little boy, Elliot Helmer knew the joys of having stuffed animal toys.
Now as a 17-year-old Boy Scout pursuing the Eagle award, Scouting’ highest honor; Helmer is getting the opportunity to pass on that childhood love to other children. Elliot is partnering with Saint Paul Police Sgt. Amy Rahfl, of the department’s Community Engagement Unit, to collect stuffed animals that patrol officers will carry in their car to give to young children they encounter in crisis situations.
Elliot said he got the idea for his Eagle Scout project after he saw a news story about a Ramey County Sheriff`s Community Service volunteer who also collects stuffed animals for the same purpose, but in the sheriff`s department.
“I was looking for a [Eagle Scout] project idea that was not dependent on weather because I knew it would occur during the winter months,” said Elliot, a Life Scout in Troop 17 that meets at Saint Anthony Park United Church of Christ and has been in the Scouting program since the first grade as a Tiger Cub in Cub Scout Pack 22. “Many Eagle Scout projects involve landscaping or construction that is best done when the ground isn`t frozen solid. This stuffed animal drive doesn`t need good weather.”
Elliot also realized the significant importance of bringing comfort to vulnerable children as well as providing the police with a positive opportunity to be seen. The Eagle Scout is the seventh and final rank in the Scouting program and one of its requirements is that the candidate undertake a community service project.
Elliot’s first toy collection took place in mid-February. His second collection date is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 9 at Centennial United Methodist Church-St. Anthony Park, 2200 W. Hillside Ave, St Paul.
Beside the drop-off date, Elliot is soliciting help from other Scout Troops and Cub Scout Packs in St. Paul to do collections within their respective units and neighborhoods.
Elliot Helmer is planning a stuffed animal toy drive as his community service project in pursuit of the Eagle Scout award. Photo by Helmer family