This is the Aaron Eilerts Day of Service and Giving in Iowa on what would have been the 20th birthday of the young man from Eagle Grove. Eilerts was one of four Boy Scouts who were killed when a tornado hit their camp in western Iowa six years ago this June.
Beth Stephas, a guidance counselor at Robert Blue Middle School in Eagle Grove, says students are honoring Eilerts all day. “One of our tasks today is to help carry on his legacy and carry on his memory,” Stephas says. “Part of the day, we will be spending some time sharing stories about Aaron and some of the things he did and then the other part of the day, the kids will actually be working on some of the projects that he did.”
Stephas says Eilerts was very active in launching projects that would help others and she thinks he’d be overwhelmed to see that his efforts are still being carried out, years after he’s been gone. “We have students that will be sewing pillow cases, that’s one of his big projects that he had, he made pillowcases for patients,” she says. “We have some students that will be creating small pet blankets out of fleece fabric. That’s another project that he was passionate about.”
The blankets are going to pets in animal shelters that would otherwise be sleeping on cold hard floors. Stephas says other projects underway in the region and statewide are considered Aaron-inspired. “We will be supporting some projects at an orphanage in Haiti by making some t-shirt dresses, dolls and craft items,” Stephas says. “We also will be supporting a project in Thailand for girls who have been saved from sex trafficking.”
Other projects today include: collecting canned goods for food pantries, making cards for soldiers overseas, fixing up the school greenhouse and volunteering to pump gas and wash windows at a local gas station for donations to charity. Every year, Character Counts in Iowa offers the Aaron Eilerts Award for Volunteerism. Entries are now being accepted at: www.charactercountsiniowa.org.
(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)