Kent City — Kent City junior Max Goldner recently completed a Boy Scout Eagle project that benefited his community.
After eliminating ideas for many worthy projects in the Grand Rapids Area, where he is part of Troop 215, Max settled on a project closer to home.
“I can physically see the camps (agricultural worker communities) all around, and once I found out that most migrating families need coats, gloves, hats… I knew that is what I wanted to do,” he said.
Barbara Berry, who coordinates migrant services for Kent City Schools, pointed out that workers bring in the harvest no matter how cold or difficult the working conditions are.
‘They (migrating agricultural workers) are often unseen and unappreciated, but on the days when Max’s collection of clothing was distributed, they knew that someone had noticed them and thought of their needs.’— Barbara Berry, director of migrant services, Kent City Schools
“During the harvest season, the work continues until past dark most days, so even when warm clothing is needed workers do not have time or liberty to buy the necessary jackets, hoodies, hats and gloves that make the weather bearable,” she said.
Max organized a clothing drive in Grand Rapids and placed a donation box at Trinity United Methodist Church, where he attends and serves as a youth representative.
Then he hosted a competition for his peers, with prizes for winning WIN seminar classes — first place students won a pizza party and second place, root beer floats.
After collecting more than 800 items, he enlisted the help of his fellow Scouts to wash, sort and box them for distribution. Berry distributed them at local camps.
“The people who received the gifts of warm clothing were all residing in the Kent City area, whether year-round or seasonally,” she said. “They are often unseen and unappreciated, but on the days when Max’s collection of clothing was distributed they knew that someone had noticed them and thought of their needs. This message mattered greatly to them, as the smiles in the photos indicate.”
Added Max, “It was really cool to see how excited they were from a benefit that I worked on.”
Makes Things Happen
Max is involved in a long list of school activities including drama, marching band, broadcasting, the writing team, Quiz Bowl, Odyssey of the Mind and the National Honor Society. He is a youth representative to his church board, performs with a community theater and has a part-time job.
Staying busy in so many school activities, he said, suits him. “It is just lucky for me that Kent City fields all of these options.”
And if he finds something missing, he has been known to step up to make it happen.
“Our eighth-grade Odyssey of the Mind team went all the way to Worlds,” he said. And so tucked somewhere between writing team competitions, play practice and the start of Quiz Bowl season, he and fellow team members decided to revive OM at the high school.
“I am helping re-organize the group so Kent City can compete this year at the high school level,” he said. The team has written a preliminary script and is just starting to prepare for its first competition, scheduled for Feb. 12.
“If we advance to Worlds again, we will go until May,” Max said.
And he seems to have a knack for inspiring others, said teacher Jonathan Schnicke. “I have (Max) in four different disciplines, and he is always committed to everything he tries,” Schnicke said. “He is very, very talented, and shares that talent not only in our school but also in the community.”
“He works hard and gives himself opportunities to grow, ” said Schnicke. “He naturally takes a leadership role because of his personality and drive. He absolutely is a student leader.”
Multiple Sources of Inspiration
While Max jokingly said that he may “have sold his soul” to Schnicke, his admiration for his mentor shows. “I am really close to the band director. I love band, drama and broadcasting and seriously just want to make the most of my time in high school,” he said.
The No. 1 support person in Max’s life, though, is mom Sarah Goldner, who teaches fifth grade in the district.
“From driving me to places, sitting down with me to figure out schedules and many other things, I couldn’t do all of this without her,” he said.
He also looks to his church youth director, Joey Jackson, for inspiration. “I have been really close to him most of my life, and he keeps me focused.”
That focus, Berry said, led to a “project that will have a continuing impact within our community.”