Growing up in a military family, Keith Ragano said, it was natural for him to think of soldiers when considering his Eagle Scout project. Most of his volunteer service has centered on Army activities.
The Fort Gordon Service Club and Army Family Team Building are only a couple of the things to which the 15-year-old Harlem High School student gives his time.
"The Army is my life," Keith said.
His mother, Marti Ragano, was the Fort Gordon volunteer of the year in 2006 and has instilled in Keith the spirit of giving back to others.
His father, Staff Sgt. Ryan Ragano, has been in the Army since 1991 and will be going to Officer Candidates School this spring.
Keith, who went before the Eagle Scout board last month, worked on his service project for about five months.
"I collected donations for an aviation brigade," he said.
The Raganos had spent seven years at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii before moving to Fort Gordon about two years ago. The aviation brigade Keith helped is stationed out of Hawaii.
Last May, Keith started collecting money and items to create care packages for soldiers. He made individual kits and larger care packages that could be used by more than one person.
The kits contained items such as gum, candy, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, sunscreen, lip balm and eye drops.
When shipping one set of the boxes, Keith met a woman whose husband is a Marine and stationed in Iraq. She asked whether he would send a package to her husband. Keith agreed.
About 600 service members benefited from his project. He collected about $2,000 in cash and $2,500 in product donations. He completed his project Oct. 1.
Keith said he received a lot of thank-you notes from the military. Among the notes was a combat patch, a combat coin and a certificate from Col. Michael Fleetwood, the commander of the 25th Aviation Regiment.
"The individual packages you prepared have been a tremendous boost to their morale. Your selfless actions are the mark of a true American patriot," the colonel wrote.
Keith has been a part of Boy Scouts since he was in the first grade.
"It's fun," he said, and the best part is "definitely the friends I've made."
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