Nicolas stands against a truck.

An Eagle Scout project is an extreme act of service. It requires meticulous planning, servant leadership and a professional juggler’s ability to multitask.

Most young people wouldn’t embark on such a difficult endeavor.

Nicolas Salazar isn’t most young people. The 15-year-old Eagle Scout from Troop 400 of Pace, Fla., part of the Gulf Coast Council, was already an Eagle Scout when he completed a second Eagle-caliber project.

What motivated his repeat performance? Some four-legged friends who can’t fight for themselves.

“I want to stand up for the animals, because they have no voice, because they didn’t choose their fate,” Nicolas says. “There are so many animals in the shelters begging for love, a home and a family.”

Nicolas led a donation drive to collect food, treats and toys for a local animal shelter. Because the project took place a few weeks before Thanksgiving, he called it the “Happy Paws-giving” project.

“Being an Eagle is more than a rank,” Nicolas says. “Being an Eagle is what we are, how we feel, what we do.”

Nicolas stands with the donations

Very good Scouts

It started on Nov. 2 when Nicolas, his fellow Scouts and his fellow high school bandmates distributed 700 flyers throughout their community.

They also placed large collection boxes in churches and businesses to create even more opportunities for donations.

A week later, the young people returned to the same neighborhoods to pick up the donations left on porches by the neighbors.

In all, Nicolas and his friends collected 2,007 pounds of dog food, cat food and treats, 99 bones, 401 toys and 203 miscellaneous items. Those include beds, blankets, leashes, brushes, monetary donations and anything else that didn’t fit into a category.

Nicolas talks to a donor.

Spreading awareness

That massive donation would’ve been enough, but Nicolas didn’t stop at helping the shelter dogs and cats get food, treats and toys.

“I wanted to prevent more animals from ending up there just because they’re unwanted,” he says.

So Nicolas helped spread awareness about the importance of spaying or neutering pets. He also shared a message that it’s better to adopt a pet from a shelter than to buy one, a campaign he called “adopt, don’t shop.”

Dogs and cats on Florida’s Gulf Coast are happier this holiday season thanks to Nicolas, an Eagle Scout who didn’t stop doing great things once he starting wearing the Eagle badge.

“As an Eagle Scout, I want to stay involved with my community, helping those in need and motivating more young people to create positive changes,” he says. “I believe we all can make a difference.”

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