Brayden Stallons has embarked on a mission to "Gobble Up Hunger" for the holidays: to gather turkeys for the The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri. The project is to help Stallons earn his Eagle Scout ranking and help people in his community have a protein-rich, hearty meal for the holidays.
The project would be a daunting prospect for any teen. For Stallons, a 14-year-old at Rock Bridge High School, the task is even more of a challenge because he has autism. But it's a challenge Stallons appreciates.
“I’m an average teen like most of the other kids. I face a challenge, and I conquer it as best I can,” Stallons told the Columbia Daily Tribune.
Stallons has far surpassed his original goal of 40 turkeys: as of Dec. 17, Stallons has donated more than 150 turkeys to the food bank.
Troop Master Clayton Fish told the Tribune that he has seen Brayden grow socially and pick up leadership skills, something Stallons has struggled with.
“You talk to him, and he’s so painfully shy,” Fish said. “It’s hard for him to talk to crowds, and part of an Eagle project is you’re not supposed to do the work; you’re supposed to manage the work like a CEO."
While other scouts usually complete service projects, like building a a playground or garden, Fish told the Tribune that Stallons' project is "difficult because you set a goal, and if you can’t make that goal,” it’s difficult to prove you earned the rank. But with the project's growing success, he's no doubt well on his way to earning his Eagle Scout ranking.
"He has worked so hard all of his life and achieved more than even he realizes," Brayden's mother, Pamela Salmon, wrote in an email to Autism Speaks. "Seeing him in action with this project is such a rewarding and amazing experience."