By Larry Whitley, Fort Meade Public Affairs Office

From left, Kaleb Ross, Jeremiah Ross, and Boy Scouts Ephraim Smith and Daniel Schneider complete the final shelf of the project. (Photo courtesy of Kristin Ross)

Eagle Scout candidate completes volunteer project

During the COVID-19 pandemic, life has significantly changed for the people of Fort Meade, especially for the services the Garrison provides. One of those major services impacted by the pandemic is the Meade Attic. Led by the 70th ISR Wing’s Top III organization, the Attic is a place where local military families can for free get gently used items for their homes and clothes to support their households.

Boy Scout Kaleb Ross saw a need during this pandemic that meshed perfectly with the outreach activities of his boy scout troop and an opportunity that would serve as his Eagle Scout project – upgrading the Meade Attic spaces to better serve the community.

“Once the Meade Attic management [Top III], my boy scout troop and district leaders approved the design concept, my job was to get funding for the project,” said Kaleb, a 15-year-old student attending the Bio-medical Allied Health Magnet Program at Glen Burnie High School (Md.). “What surprised me most was the funding required due to the size of the project and the cost of wood.”

A member of Boy Scout Troop 1785 of Pasadena, Md., Ross designed, presented and supervised the construction of new display shelves for the Meade Attic. He, with his team of 12 other boy scouts and 6 adult volunteers, began the project on Dec. 12 last year when they picked up the lumber and materials used to build the shelving.

According to Ross’ father, Command Chief Master Sgt. Jeremiah Ross, the young scout saw existing shelving was in disrepair and a potential safety hazard for the patrons. The project included sourcing and building 30 large wooden shelving units, removing the old units and installing the new shelving in anticipation of a garrison decision to allow the Meade Attic to reopen. The Meade Attic management must submit to the Recovery Review Board process to gain command approval to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic under HPCON-B.

Ross raised $1800 to fund the project, the build of which was completed on Jan. 10, 2021. And, although the effort required to raise the necessary funds for the project was formidable, the Eagle Scout candidate says it was not the most difficult learning experience of the project.

“The biggest learning that took place for me was exhibiting the leadership needed to ensure everyone knew the requirements and stayed aligned with the milestones necessary to have a successful project,” said Ross. “I learned a lot about the various components of leadership as well as how to supervise a project against a deadline.”

The project received a thumbs-up from the Eagle Scout project review board on Feb. 11. Ross’ commitment to serving the local community continues a strong family tradition of volunteerism where he, his mother Kristin, and little brother Jaxtin have routinely supported the Meade Attic over the last two years. Kristin is leading an effort with local Air Force spouses to open Elizebeth’s Armoire inside of the Attic. The Armoire will loan semi-formal, formal wear, and eventually business attire for military family members who may need to borrow an outfit for more formal events like military balls, job interviews, and the like.

MSgt. April Nixon, who helps supervise Meade Attic operations, says Kaleb’s work was exceptional.

“The Meade Attic was so thankful to have Kaleb choose us for his project,” said Nixon.

“Once I took over as the Attic Manger in November 2020 I saw that the space we had wasn’t being used to its potential. The shelves that we had were rusting, tilting and were a safety issue due to how high products were being stacked on the shelves. Since we are a non-profit it would of cost thousands of dollars and months for us to replace the shelves.”

“Thanks to Kaleb we was able to get what we needed,” Nixon stated.  “I’m beyond impressed with all the hard work Kaleb put forward with raising the money, designing, and building the units.” 

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The project’s shelving for the Meade Attic stands in the foreground, with the old shelving in the background (Photo courtesy of Kristin Ross)

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Kaleb, left, and his dad, Jeremiah, complete the first of the 30 shelves produced under Kaleb’s leadership. (Photo courtesy of Kristin Ross)

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Boy Scouts Jaxtin Ross, left, and Daniel Schneider use the framing guide to assemble shelf supports. (Photo courtesy of Kristin Ross)