A Rogich Middle School eighth-grader and Boy Scout has become a holiday hero at the Ronald McDonald House of Greater Las Vegas.
As part of a project to earn a merit badge on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout, 13-year-old Philip Bouchard Jr. raised more than $1,400 dollars in gift cards and cash donations for the charity, which helps families with critically ill children.
He also collected nearly 1,500 additional stocking stuffers for children assisted by the charity.
Bouchard, whose original goal was to donate 800 gifts, organized a team of friends and family to collect clothing and hygiene items, toys and games for toddlers, DVDs and Legos in addition to gift cards and financial gifts.
His team operated on separate weekends at a Wal-Mart and the Palo Verde chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Nov. 15 to Monday.
Initially worried that he would fall short of his goal, Bouchard was surprised when he almost doubled it.
“It was humbling to see the generosity of so many people,” Bouchard said. “I really wanted to give this my all, and our hard work paid off.”
His donation was among the largest ever made to the Ronald McDonald House of Greater Las Vegas by a teen, charity events manager Missy Check said.
“His hard work is going to make a great impact to the people here,” Check said. “What’s most impressive is how Philip organized the project. He had to oversee the project completely on his own.”
By all accounts, Bouchard is used to being a leader. Rogich Principal Suzie Harrison said she heard about Bouchard’s achievement through the grapevine but wasn’t at all surprised.
“We’re very proud of Philip,” Harrison said. “He’s representing our school the right way.”
Jamece Barcelon, Bouchard’s Honors English Literature class teacher, agreed.
“He needs to have a challenge, and he regularly rises to the occasion,” Barcelon said. “He’s the cream of the crop, a dynamite kid with endless energy. I’m honored to have him in my class.”
A committed Boy Scout, Bouchard has already earned 55 of the Scouts’ more than 130 total merit badges — the most among local Scouts his age. While most Boy Scouts don’t become Eagle Scouts until ages 15 to 18, Bouchard has met all qualifications for promotion by 13 and will make his case to an Eagle Scout committee in January.
His goal is to achieve all the badges by the time he graduates high school.
“I think this shows anything is possible when you work hard enough,” Bouchard said. “And I really think I can do it.”
Even with all the pats on the back, Bouchard admitted to one shortcoming.
“One of the gifts on the list was an iPad, and I couldn’t get that one.”
Another goal for him to work toward.
Contact reporter Chris Kudialis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0381.