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Eagle Scouts Help Homeless

Jacob Weller builds coatracks for the homeless.

To complete his final Boy Scout Project, Jacob Weller, 16, of the Brookfield community of Chantilly, helped build five coatracks for the Embry Rucker homeless shelter in Reston on Saturday, May 14.

"I SAW an article in the Centre View newspaper about homeless shelters," said Jacob, who recently completed his sophomore year at Chantilly High School. "I decided to build five coatracks to hang donated coats on so people don't have to dig through coats on the ground."

Completing this project earned Jacob the highest Boy Scout honor, the status of Eagle Scout — an achievement Jacob's Venture Crew Advisor of Troop 887, Phil Marsh, believes he deserved.

"Jacob is a quiet leader [who] leads by example," said Marsh. "He is considered pretty popular and when he sets an example [like this], people like to follow it."

Jacob campaigned vigorously throughout his community to gain support for this project. "I made flyers and announced [the project] in church," said Jacob, who belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Oakton. "About 30 to 40 people from my Boy Scout troop and church [showed up to] help."

But beyond physical labor, Jacob also needed funding. "The project cost more than $400 and was paid for by our Scout fund, my parents [Dennis and Debbie Weller] and the money I've made from my paper route [with the Centre View]," said Jacob. "And Lowe's [Hardware] gave us a 10 percent discount on everything we needed."

EACH COATRACK was 6 feet wide, 5 feet high and approximately 5 feet deep. " The hardest part was organizing [the event]," said Jacob. "We had all of the wood cut and prepared; but when people started showing up, it was hard [to find work] for everyone [to do]."

"I offered Jacob several easier projects but he wasn't satisfied with them" said Marsh. "Rather than taking the easy way out, he looked for something that would help less fortunate people in his community."

Jacob's drive to help others may also be the result of his family's history of public service. Jacob's father, Dennis, has an itinerant career with the State Department, which occasionally requires the Wellers to move to other, third-world countries.

"I'm moving to Ghana with my parents on Aug. 11," said Jacob. "My parents really pushed me to [become an Eagle Scout] before leaving because they didn't know whether there was a Boy Scout program [in Ghana]."

Though Jacob is preparing to leave the country, his enthusiasm for helping others has made a permanent impression in the memories of those who know him best.

"Jacob has a real zeal for life," said Marsh. "He is fun-loving and very competitive. He does everything with a lot of gusto. I admire that in him."