Shelly Birkelo" />

Local Scout showing his 'gratitude'

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Shelly Birkelo
Friday, August 10, 2012

— It's not surprise that Alec Frey's Eagle Scout project is military-related.

"I've got quite a few family members in the armed forces, now, and I'm going into the Marines next summer," said the 17-year-old soon-to-be Milton High School senior.

When Frey began researching possible Eagle Scout projects, he discovered Operation Gratitude, a California-based nonprofit organization that collects donations for U.S. soldiers serving abroad and their families back home.

"I was looking up projects to benefit troops, and then I saw it sends care packages overseas. It looked worthwhile, so I went for that," he said.

After months of planning, Frey scheduled donation drives twice a month through Sept. 21 at two Rock County businesses. The first drive July 21 went well, he said.

"I collected almost $500 in cash donations, so I can go out and buy more items," he said.

Frey also received a call from the Janesville VFW, where donations included DVDs, clothes and care package items.

Frey said his family history with the armed forces played a big part in him getting across his message about the project. One uncle attended the U.S. Naval Academy and served five years, while another uncle retired from the Air Force after a 30-year career. His grandpa was in the Navy, and he has a few friends in the Marines.

Frey said the project is teaching him to be more outgoing.

"I'm pretty shy. So when it comes to going out and walking up to a person I've never seen in my life and giving my pitch of my project, I never really know what's going to happen," he said. "It's not as bad as I thought it would be."


Frey is working with Operation Gratitude, a California-based nonprofit, to collect donations for U.S. soldiers serving abroad and their families back home. Items sought include:

-- Yarn for knitting scarves

-- Beanie Babies or other small plush toys

-- Socks—preferably black, brown, green, tan; not white.

-- iPods, DVDs, CDs, video games, computer flash drives.

-- Gift cards to chain stores for Wounded Warriors.

-- Factory sealed lip balm, toothpaste, toothbrushes, roll-on deodorant.

-- Individually packed razors

-- Travel-size board games, hand-held electronic games.

-- Individual packets of moist towelettes

-- Travel-size containers of foot powder

-- Web cams and headsets–earpiece and microphone.

-- Screen-printed T-shirts, baseball caps, gloves.

-- Blank holiday and general occasion greeting cards

-- Unsealed personal cards and letters

-- Used cell phones, video games and video game systems, iPods, PDAs, ink-jet cartridges.

-- Cash donations for shipping and to buy additional items

Last updated: 5:11 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2013

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