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UC's Vijay Palkhiwala completes his Eagle Scout Service Project

By Jim Lambert
 
When Vijay Palkhiwala started thinking about what he wanted to do in order to complete his Eagle Scout project, there was one thing he knew for sure.
“I knew I wanted to do something that would make a difference,’’ said Palkhiwala, a senior at Union Catholic.

Palkhiwala, who lives in Maplewood, came up with a great idea for his project after he had a flashback to a friend he had in middle school.
 
“My friend was a foster child, and when he moved they gave him a garbage bag to put his stuff in,’’ said Palkhiwala, a member of Troop 60 out of Maplewood/South Orange. “There was lots of stuff he couldn’t fit in the bag and take with him. But when got to his new foster home, someone gave him a bag that had lots of essential items that he could use. I thought that was the perfect idea for my project.’’
 
So Palkhiwala reached out to the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) in Cumberland, Salem and Gloucester Counties, who have been running a duffel bag program, and expressed his interest to help. CASA is a national association that supports and promotes court-appointed advocates for abused or neglected children in order to provide children with a safe and healthy environment in permanent homes.
 
Palkhiwala spent some money out of his own pocket and raised funds by holding canister drives outside stores in Maplewood for two weekends over the summer.
 
Palkhiwala raised enough money to purchase 40 duffel bags that he filled with blankets, toys, and basic essentials such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, and other toiletry items, and donated them to CASA.
 
“I know there are thousands of kids each year that go into the foster care system, and I wanted them to know that someone out there cares for them,’’ said Palkhiwala. “It gives me a sense of pride to know that I am making a difference for some kids.’’
 
Palkhiwala, who founded the Internet Club at UC and is a board operator for UC’s Livestream, had always dreamed of becoming an Eagle Scout.
 
“Once I got through the cub scout program and became a boy scout,’’ Palkhiwala said. “I always had the dream of becoming an Eagle Scout, but at first I didn’t think it was that feasible. But then as rose through the ranks and got near the top of the leadership chain, I realized it was feasible and that I could do this. But I wanted to make a difference, which is why I decided to do the duffel bags for my project. I wasn’t as concerned with completing the requirement as I was with making a difference.’’
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