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Eagle Scout project blankets kids with love

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By Brenda Sexton

The Courier-Herald

While volunteers were planting and weeding around the grounds at Enumclaw's Ashley House, 17-year-old William Sugihara excused himself and walked off to a nearby pickup truck. He came back carrying an arm load of colorful quilts.

Sugihara handed the stack of handmade blankets off to Ashley House Executive Director Thelma Struck - the culmination of his Eagle Scout project.

“I didn't want to build a bridge or do something everyone else does,” said the Enumclaw High junior who is a member of Troop 302 with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Enumclaw Ward. “I'm not the type to jump on the band wagon.”

Inspired by another project his mother had read about, Sugihara didn't actually make all the quilts, but he stitched together a complex group of volunteers to produce them.

It started with a donation from his grandmother and a announcement at the church for volunteers to create the quilt covers. On April 19, he organized about 30 volunteers, of all ages, together in the church gymnasium in a make-shift quilting bee where for two hours more volunteers buzzed around tying the quilts.

“There was a lot of experienced and inexperienced volunteers there,” Sugihara said.

The quilt project gave Sugihara an opportunity to involve a different group - ladies and young women - in an Eagle Scout project. He pointed out traditionally Eagle Scout projects involve construction and men.

Together the group created 20 quilts - crib, single and full-size versions - to be divided between Enumclaw's Ashley House and Auburn's Child Haven.

Ashley House was a natural for the quilts since Sugihara, through the church's volunteer program, helps out at the home regularly.

“The quilts will be well-used,” Struck said. She said they will be shared with the three other Ashley Houses in the Puget Sound area.

Ashley House is a private, non-profit agency providing services for medically fragile children and their families. It was founded in Enumclaw in 1989.

“Over the years Eagle Scouts have done wonderful things for us,” said Struck referring to other projects like a gazebo and a gravel driveway.

The quilt project culminates five years of work toward Sugihara's Eagle Scout award. Currently involved in EHS's Running Start program through Green River Community College, Sugihara's future plans after graduation include a two-year mission for the church and then to go on to college where he plans to study research or science.

Brenda Sexton can be reached at bsexton@courierherald.com.

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