Meridian Star

Local News

January 14, 2013

Star Of The Week: Gage Leifried

MERIDIAN —     A young Meridian man has earned Eagle Scout rank as a result of years of work and a project that helped children.

    Gage Leifried, 15, in partnership with The Earthgrains Baking Company in Meridian and with help from other scouts and sponsors, coordinated and led the effort to refurbish recreational equipment at Hope Village, a group home for children in the foster care system.

    The project included refurbishing swing sets and installing 16  new swings, a new volleyball net and balls, installation of tether ball system, six new basketballs with ball holder, a new foos ball table, and a new shuffle board set.

    The Earthgrains Baking Company (Sara Lee), a manufacturer of fresh baked bread and buns and a part of Bimbo Bakeries USA conducts an annual community outreach project with a non-profit entity in the community.

    Leifried, a student at Southeast Lauderdale High School, started in scouting when he was 10 years old and living in Texas. He stayed with it after moving to Meridian and he said he enjoys it very much.

    "Sometimes it gets difficult, but that's the stuff that makes you better," Leifried said.

    He likes that it helps build leadership qualities, as well as teaching many other skills. He has served as a senior patrol leader.

    "It gave me leadership opportunities," he said. "It gave me opportunities to give back to the community and it allowed me to reach out to people in the community."

    Leifried is a member of Troop 40 and his scoutmaster is Robert Huffman.

    Scouts must earn at least 21 merit badges before seeking the Eagle Scout rank. Leifried has earned 30.

    "Merit badges open your eyes to different areas," he said. "I took the engineering merit badge and that really opened my eyes to what it really is."

    Scouts also have to volunteer for community service. For instance, Troop 40 canoes every year and picks up trash along the creek.

    "It's just giving back to the community any way you can," he said.

    Knowing that  Sara Lee  wanted to do a community project, Leifried and the company decided to help Hope Village.

    He went online, got prices for the equipment, set a budget and took it to Sara Lee. Once approved, he then had to get approval from the Boy Scout Council.

    Then, he said, it was a go.

    Several local businesses participated by donating time or donating and discounting materials; Sherwin Williams Paint, Wilson Sandblasting, and Judge Little Sporting Goods.

    Earthgrains Meridian Facility associates who participated in the project by donating their time and efforts for completion of the project include: Doug Etheridge, Chris Salisbury, Tom Eakes, Glen Mosley and Rod Leifried.  

    Children at Hope Village range in age from birth to 20 years old and officials there are proud of the fact that more than 95 percent of  the children living at Hope Village will complete high school and more than 50 percent of them will enter college. This is only possible because of the support received from the community, according to Tina Aycock, executive director of Hope Village for Children.

    “It is always heartwarming to see young people donating their time and talents to help those less fortunate" Aycock said. "By increasing the recreational opportunities, these efforts will have a direct impact on the quality of life for our children.”

    For more information about Hope Village for Children, email hopeinfo@hopevillagems.org or make a donation at www.hopevillagems.org or call 601-553-8660.

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