Chris Naccarato could have given up on becoming an Eagle Scout. His friends and family surely would have given him a pass.
Most Boy Scouts quit without reaching Eagle. Few of those kids have Down syndrome like Chris.
But that’s not Chris Naccarato. That’s not the Boy Scout motto. A Central Valley High School student, Naccarato, 17, moved closer to his goal just days before Christmas. He wrapped up an ambitious three-month community service project and made the largest individual basket donation ever of clothes and necessities to the Anna Ogden Hall center for women and children.
Laundry baskets filled with items are the most common donation individuals make to the hall. Naccarato donated 39.
“That’s a lot of stuff,” said Timara Brower, administrative assistant at the hall. “It’s stuff that we will use all year. Some of this we will use for birthdays, graduation from drug treatment. We believe in celebrating here.”
It took three Suburbans and one pickup to deliver the goods. On a frigid Wednesday afternoon, Naccarato stood outside the hall in his Scout uniform passing baskets of merchandise to friends and family, who delivered them bucket-brigade-style to the hall’s front door.
“And I have $50” to give the hall, Naccarato said, smiling.
He had $1,000 in cash donations a few weeks ago after soliciting donations from fellow attendees of Millwood Presbyterian Church and spending several hours with fellow Scouts at the exit doors of the Spokane Valley Fred Meyer.
Chris isn’t big on patience, said his mother, Sharon Naccarato, so it took three shopping trips to get the money spent.
Including non-cash donations, the Naccaratos – who lined up an accountant to keep track of Chris’ project – value the donations at $3,000. Sharon Naccarato said the drive could have continued seemingly forever, but the donations had filled her basement, which she needed back.
Chris chose Anna Ogden Hall because he wanted to help babies. This year, nearly 500 women and children will stay at the northwest Spokane home operated by the Union Gospel Mission. Poverty, addiction and abuse are common challenges facing residents of the 33-year-old hall. Even as Naccarato’s baskets were unloaded at the hall, residents were appreciatively eyeing the donations.
The hall wouldn’t have been first choice for most Scouts. Every would-be Eagle Scout must orchestrate an ambitious community service project to reach the group’s highest rank. Typically, those projects are labor driven, focusing on landscaping parks or churches, which was beyond Chris Naccarato’s ability.
He needed something different to beat the odds. Only 4 percent of all Scouts achieve Eagle rank, according to the group’s official Web site, www.scouting.org.
Recognizing the difficulties Scouts like Naccarato face, the group allows for some rule bending when it comes to advancement. But Naccarato has moved within one merit badge of achieving Eagle without any exceptions.
Swimming was the toughest merit badge thus far, said Chris’ father, Jay Naccarato, because his son had to swim 10 feet under water and surface with a pebble as proof of his accomplishment. Physically, Chris Naccarato has a hard time holding his breath long enough to reach the depth required. He had no problem swimming for a required mile, however, and while Chris aced that requirement, Jay was busy rescuing more able-bodied Scouts who couldn’t.
The last badge Chris faces, citizenship in the world, is a tall order. He’ll have to explain international law and how it differs from national law, how the United States is accredited with international organizations and the exchange rates between three foreign currencies and the U.S. dollar.
Sharon Naccarato said the family will spend the next several months making sure Chris not only knows the required answers for his final merit badge, but also understands them.
He’ll have to reach Eagle before his 18th birthday, the cutoff for scouting advancement.
He’ll do his best. He’ll be prepared. That’s the Scout motto.