One day leaving a Buckland church with his grandmother, a Wapakoneta High School student noticed the parking lot needed relined and a plot of land needed to be spruced up.
Nearly a year later, this past Sunday, 16-year-old Jon Eaton stood in the front of the congregation at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ as he was honored for earning his Eagle Scout, the highest award, for making improvements at his grandmother’s church.
Eaton had improved the parking lot and surrounding area for the Buckland United Church of Christ, where his grandmother, Laura Norman, attends church services.
“I picked the parking lot for a project to do because I went to my grandmother’s church for a couple of masses and I would walk out and people would be parking everywhere and every which way,” said Eaton, who is Catholic and attends services regularly at St. Joseph Catholic Church. “They (church members) would have trouble pulling out of the parking lot because there were no lines. I felt the parking lot just needed redone and the trees were dying in another area, so I figured it would be nice if I just redid the parking lot and give them a nice flower bed.”
Eaton felt his service project also should honor U.S. military servicemen and designed a memorial. He planted a flower bed at the church and placed the memorial marker there in honor of those men who serve in the armed forces.
To start and finish the project, Eaton raised $1,600 to pay for the materials to complete the parking lot and the memorial.
With the funds raised, Eaton then led a group of 28 Boy Scouts and adults to work on the project. He and his crew worked in 95-degree heat to complete the project, which took a total of 227 hours, and was finally completed in September of 2011.
While the project helped the church, it also helped Eaton grow and mature.
“I learned coming up with a project of this scope and completing it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of time to make sure it was done right,” Eaton told the Wapakoneta Daily News. “I learned how to make my own budget so I wouldn’t overspend. I also learned how to handle money.
“For me, the project seemed pretty overwhelming at first, but I learned the best thing for me was to break it down into little steps,” he said. “I found that made the project a lot easier for me to get it done.”
He appreciated the hard work and help he received from his fellow Boy Scouts. While he led the project, he also helped pave the way for them to learn how much work and effort it takes to earn their Eagle Scout like him and others before him.
To earn the award, Eaton earned 21 merit badges, served as a leader in his troop and completed a major service community project — which he chose as the Buckland United Church of Christ improvement project.
Eaton, who has been a Boy Scout since 2008, completed another one of his goals — to complete the requirements for Eagle Scout by the time he was 16. He said he realized the older he got the more difficult it would be to achieve his goal of becoming an Eagle Scout.
During his four years with Boy Scout Troop 14, which calls St. Paul’s United Church of Christ home, Eaton has served twice as assistant senior patrol leader, twice as chaplain aide, as librarian and quartermaster.
He also is a member of the Order of the Arrow, which is the honor society for the Boy Scouts and the God and Country, a religious award. He achieved the rank of first class during his first year of Boy Scouts.
Prior to being a Boy Scout, the son of Marty and Sean Eaton was a Cub Scout member of Pack 4 where he was a member since 2003. He also earned the Arrow of Light, which is the highest award for a Cub Scout, and the Light of Christ, a religious award.
At school, he plays football, basketball and baseball for the Redskins. He is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and is an honor student.
The culmination of all the work he did for the past nine years came to the forefront this past Sunday.
“Being recognized at the church made me feel really good about myself and proud of the work I could do for the community,” Eaton said.
“I appreciated all the people who came and helped me with my project and those people who encouraged me along the way. Their assistance and this project meant a lot to me because we are helping others out.”