Jefferson City – Malachi Saint, a former foster child, wanted to help struggling children going in and out of the system for his Eagle Scout project.
He set out to do something the board didn't think he could - raise $10,000 in donations to help the Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association.
“My parents told me stories about how I came with a grocery bag with all of my possessions. It was all in a Walmart bag. I am hoping other kids are coming into homes better than I did,” he said.
Malachi raised money to help the foster and adoption agency's Begin Again Backpacks. These backpacks help children transitioning in and out of foster care by providing them basic necessities, such as a blanket of their own, clothes, school supplies and more.
It wasn’t easy for the 15 year old to break the mold, especially when the project had to be approved by a group of adults who only meet once a month.
Eagle Scout is the Boy Scouts' highest rank. It requires completion of an extensive leadership project that is then approved by the Eagle Board of Review. Malachi said boys typically build something for their project.
“During my board review, they sent me back home saying ‘You probably should do a building project because I don’t know how this is going to work. How are you going to get 10,000 dollars in a time of three months?’” he said.
Malachi went to the board twice before finally receiving approval to move forward on the project. By that time, he had already raised nearly $2,500.
Deeann Saint, Malachi’s mother, said she and her husband were brand new parents when they took in Malachi and his sister. She said the reality of children going through the foster care system is heartbreaking.
“She had a couple diapers, he had a girls’ coat. I’ll never forget it,” she said.
Deeann Saint said she and Malachi wrote letters to various businesses and people detailing the things the foster and adoption group needs for its Begin Again Backpacks.
One letter was made to Gov. Eric Greitens and his wife Sheena Greitens. They recognized Malachi’s work and sent in a donation and a signed copy of the governor’s book.
Malachi did not just gather donations and raise money. Along with some friends and fellow troop members, he learned to sew blankets to go in the backpacks.
Luke Steenbergen, an Eagle Scout since 2014, was assigned to be Malachi's project manager.
“A lot of people tend to build stuff for people. Malachi’s is very different from what I’ve seen,” he said.
Steenbergen mainly helps with the write-up portion of the project.
“It’s a big, thick packet and a lot of it is what you plan on doing and what tools you’ll need, and there’s sample questions on how you will show leadership, what you will do and where you will keep your stuff for the project,” he said.
Steenbergen said it’s an honor to help because a very low percentage of Boy Scouts reach this high of a rank.
For Malachi, the honor comes from helping those who need it.
“After being told what I came in with, I feel like my whole life I’ve wanted people to have better than I’ve had. I’ve always wanted to help others, and I usually put others’ needs before mine. If I can make someone happy, it really makes me happy myself,” he said.
Malachi’s family said, once they finish delivering all the donations at the beginning of November, they will most likely be over the $10,000 goal.