Eagle Scout project benefits parks dept.

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published November 22, 2019

 For his Eagle Scout project, Matthew Mertens, of Macomb Township, constructed a Santa bench for the Macomb Township Parks and Recreation Department.

For his Eagle Scout project, Matthew Mertens, of Macomb Township, constructed a Santa bench for the Macomb Township Parks and Recreation Department.

Photo provided by Michelle Duda

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Santa’s got a brand new bench.

When the Jolly Old Elf visits the Macomb Township Recreation Department Dec. 3 for the annual holiday tree lighting ceremony, he’ll be sitting in comfort and style, thanks to Matthew Mertens.

For his Eagle Scout project, 14-year-old Mertens, of Macomb Township, constructed a Santa bench for the Macomb Township Parks and Recreation Department.

The project took the Dakota High School freshman around nine months, from planning and fundraising to completion of the bench. He raised around $500.

“This is one of the biggest projects I’ve ever done, and seeing everybody come together to try to help me build this was very nice to see,” Mertens said.

Mertens’ troop, Troop 391, has a connection with Macomb Township Parks and Recreation programmer Michelle Duda.

“Matthew inquired about doing an Eagle Scout project for us,” Duda said. “We, of course, were happy to work with him and be the beneficiary. We have had several wonderful Eagle Scout projects done for us over the years.”

Maria Mertens, Matthew’s mother, said a lot of planning went into her son’s project.

“I don’t think a lot of people understand the whole Eagle project concept,” she said. “It’s not up to him to build it — it’s for him to lead it, and it was amazing watching him help first-year scouts how to paint. It was amazing to see him offer guidance and leadership.”

Fellow troop members assisted Matthew with building the bench, which included painting and cutting most of the wood.

“The department said they loved it because it’s easy for kids to sit on the bench and Santa didn’t want to have rails to contend with, so he was super happy to learn it was a straight bench,” Maria said.

The Dec. 3 ceremony begins at 6:30 p.m. outside with caroling, a greeting from township officials, the arrival and greeting of Santa and concludes with the lighting of the tree. After the ceremony inside the recreation center, Santa will visit with children.

“This is a huge help to our department,” Duda said. “We do not always have the time to build new things for our events, but having this new chair is something that was well needed for our holiday events and will be enjoyed by many.”

The bench will also be used Dec. 7 for Santa’s Jingle Bell Brunch at the Macomb Township Recreation Center, 20699 Macomb St., and for many years to come.

“We are very grateful to Matthew for his contribution to our community through the department,” Duda said. “We hope he learned a lot and is as proud of the finished product as we are.”

Now that Matthew’s project is complete, he has to earn a couple more merit badges prior to receiving the rank of Eagle, which will likely happen in the next six months.