McLean Community Pitches In for Eagle Scout Project
Antonio Vasquez, 14, spearheaded a book collection drive for children and teens affected by Superstorm Sandy.
McLean High School freshman Antonio Vasquez wanted to do something for his Eagle Scout project to help those affected by Superstorm Sandy.
The timeline involved in launching an Eagle Scout project didn’t allow him to start one right away. But his family soon discovered a post on a relative’s Facebook page about the Bridge of Books Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides books for underprivileged and at-risk children in New Jersey. With the help of the community, he was able to deliver on the project.
“It was a great experience for me,” Antonio said. “I really enjoyed it, and it was very heartwarming. It helped me because I helped people who got hurt by Superstorm Sandy, which was one of my goals because I was very concerned when the storm hit, and I was glad to see everybody in the community come out and help.”
Both of his parents are from New York, and Bridge of Books struck a chord with Antonio, 14, because he had difficulty learning to read as a child and found the love of reading through a dedicated reading teacher, said his mother, Debra Mastronardi. He contacted the nonprofit, which agreed to accept whatever he could collect.
The next hurdle was finding a moving company to donate its services. Mastronardi struck gold when she contacted Bookstore Movers, where staff called her back within 15 minute to say they’d do the job. Antonio collected books in late January and early February from his parish, St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Vienna; local schools; and a hair salon in Vienna, Victoria Station.
His work paid off. Antonio ultimately collected 4,364 books, more than twice his goal of 2,000. Staples and his mother’s company donated leftover paper boxes for book storage, and Boy Scouts and assistant scoutmasters came to his home to sort, count, box and weigh the books. Bookstore Movers drove away with the books Feb. 17.
Assistant Scoutmaster Prakash Nadkarni, Antonio’s Eagle advisor, said he was particularly impressed by Antonio’s ability to organize the project.
“There’s a tremendous amount of planning and organization that was involved, which is pretty impressive,” Nadkarni said. “That’s what Eagle projects are about, getting the young Scouts involved in community service, but also to enhance their own skills and management in executing the project.”
Antonio’s mother was astounded by the support her son received from the community.
“We’re really proud of him for starting that project, but what I was really impressed with was the people that wanted to help him,” Mastronardi said. “It was really very heartwarming to see how people just wanted to help.”