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Derry grad fills need with Scout project

| Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, 1:57 p.m.
SubmittedMatt Nitkiewicz, a Derry Area School District graduate and Life Scout with Boy Scouts of America Troop 352, designed, built and donated four mobile cabinets with the help of other scouts for the school’s Kids In Need in Derry (KIND) program. Pictures with the cabinets are (from left) middle school guidance counselor and KIND representative Lisa Tatone, Matt’s mother Amy Nitkiewicz, Nitkiewicz, middle school Principal Jeff Metzger and high school learning support teacher and KIND chairman Dave McCleary

Recent Derry Area High School graduate Matt Nitkiewicz didn't have to go far to find inspiration for his Eagle Scout service project.

Nitkiewicz, a Life Scout with Boy Scouts of America Troop 352, which meets in Hillside, saw an opportunity to help a charitable organization inside his school.

Kids In Need in Derry (KIND) accepts and distributes clothing donations from classrooms in district schools, but the group's storage options were less than ideal. For his project, Matt designed, built and donated four mobile cabinets with the help of other Scouts.

“I saw how terrible their storage was, so that's how I came up with the idea to build the mobile cabinets to make their processing of the clothes and all their storage easier,” he said.

Nitkiewicz started planning his project in January and dropped off the customized cabinets near the end of June.

“Things don't always work out as planned and you have to learn how to adapt with what you have,” he said of the project. “The design of it didn't exactly work out. I had to readjust some parts of the design to actually make it work.”

After the adjustments, his contributions to the KIND program were tailor-made to its needs.

“He really put some time and effort into planning them, designing them so that they would be exactly what we need,” said KIND chairman Dave McCleary.

“He kind of took a look at what we do, what we need, and then he designed them on his own,” McCleary said. “He put them on casters, which is really nice because we have some open houses between Thanksgiving and Christmas so people in our community can come in and see if there's any clothing that they could use. ... He saw that we needed some hanging space available for coats and things like that, that you would put on hangers, so he incorporated that in his design. The designs are flexible because you can add shelving space, you can add in hanging rods, kind of individualize them to fit our needs, which is really nice.”

The clothing bank is one component of KIND. McCleary said the program works to fill an array of needs.

“Originally it was started to basically have funding for students to be able to do anything that they couldn't do, educationally, on their own,” McCleary said, including providing musical instruments, meals, footwear and field trip costs. “... It kind of depends on the grade level. We have it broken down so that each of our three buildings has their own committee, and they kind of decide what things are needed for students at that level.”

Nitkiewicz plans to attend the University of Pittsburgh to study materials engineering. He hopes to receive formal notice from the Boy Scouts of America this fall that his project and Eagle Scout rank application have been approved.

Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913, or

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