As summer wound down, a return to school was on the minds of many people, including Eagle Scout candidate Adam Hannula, 14, of Groveland.
An incoming freshman at Pentucket Regional High School, Adam wanted to create a project to earn his Eagle Scout rank that would make a difference in the lives of children who have very little to call their own.
He thought about children living in the Emmaus family shelter in Haverhill and what he could do to help them get off to a good start for the new school year.
So he reached out to the Emmaus Inc. organization that provides housing to homeless families.
"I learned about Emmaus through our synagogue, Temple Emanu-El in Haverhill, where we run clothing and food drives and host an annual Christmas party for children at the Emmaus shelter," Adam said.
Adam contacted Denise Arnold, Emmaus volunteer and gifts in-kind manager, to say he was developing his Eagle project and ask if it would be a good fit for Emmaus.
"He suggested backpacks for the 30 children living at our family shelter at 150 How St.," Arnold said. "We gave him a list of children's ages and the grades they were entering so he could tailor his backpacks to them."
"Since I like Emmaus and I appreciate what they do,'' Adam said, "I thought about the kids living there and wanted to get them some nice things to start the school year, and not items from a dollar store."
So he put out a call to friends, fellow scouts, relatives, neighbors, members of his synagogue and others, asking for donations of good quality, brand-name backpacks such as those made by Sierra and L.L. Bean, along with good quality school supplies.
"We also asked for donations of pens and pencils, anti-bacterial wipes and sanitizer, electronic calculators, binders, folders, paper, markers and book covers for the older kids," Adam said.
It didn't take long for the supplies to start arriving at his home.
Adam's parents, Scott and Andi Hannula, set up an assembly line in their driveway and did the final quality control checks.
"Scouts are enthusiastic, but not always thorough," Scott Hannula joked.
"It was a good community effort," said Adam, who delivered the backpacks to Emmaus on Aug. 31.
"Without Adam, it would have been much more difficult to provide our children with school necessities," Arnold said. "The children loved their backpacks and supplies .... It was something they could call their own."
Adam said he must submit his project to the Eagle Scout board and then will await word about whether it earns him the top rank in scouting.