Scouts, students serve to honor Eilerts

EAGLE GROVE – The memory of a fallen Boy Scout continues to inspire Scouts and students throughout the state.

In Fort Dodge, a Boy Scout troop will hold a blood drive Saturday in Aaron Eilerts” honor. And in Eilerts’ home town of Eagle Grove, middle school students will spend Monday giving back in a plethora of ways.

“We will have a variety of service projects throughout the day to benefit the community, county, nation and world,” said Eagle Grove school counselor Beth Stephas.

Eilerts was one of four Scouts killed when a tornado struck the Little Sioux Boy Scout Camp in June 2008. He had just finished eighth grade.

“When he died, Governor Culver came to his memorial service in our community. He declared every year on his birthday, Feb. 24, would be a day of service and giving in his memory,” Stephas said. “We try to carry on Aaron’s legacy.”

The students will continue Eilerts’ project of sewing pillowcases.

“That was a project Aaron had started as a Boy Scout,” she said. “In his short life, he sewed over 300 pillowcases and donated them to the hospital. But he also made pillowcases for firefighters and teachers, and people he felt were doing something for the community.

“His pillowcases were sewn with three different fabrics, very bright colors, fun patterns. The idea at the hospital was that children who were going in to have a procedure done or might be facing a difficult illness or something – they would be able to lay their head on something a little more bright and cheery and be able to take a memento home.”

The kids make more than 100 pillowcases each year, Stephas said, and have been doing this for six years, so close to 1,000 pillowcases have been donated.

Eilerts was also known for making pet blankets out of fleece to donate to animal shelters, she said.

“Aaron didn’t like to see the animals that were being kenneled at shelter just having to lay on a cement floor. He wanted them to have something soft to lay on. We have continued that project,” said Stephas. “This year,we are donating all of the pet blankets we make to the leader dogs program at the Fort Dodge prison.”

The students will also have some things happening for local food pantries and Upper Des Moines Opportunity, she said. Kids will create kits for cancer patients at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines.

The students will also make T-shirt dolls and dresses to send to orphans in Haiti.

Eilerts “was a student in our building from sixth to eighth grade, and we saw the amazing things he would do,” Stephas said. “He was so selfless and always giving and creating and making things for people. Just an incredible young boy with a huge heart.”