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Tarboro teen saves local fire department after raising $20k during Eagle Scout project

A Tarboro 16-year-old raised more than $22,000 for his local volunteer fire department as part of a project to obtain the rank of Eagle Scout.

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Keenan Willard
, WRAL eastern North Carolina reporter
TARBORO, N.C. — A Tarboro 16-year-old raised more than $22,000 for his local volunteer fire department as part of a project to become an Eagle Scout.

If it wasn’t for Will Wooten’s hard work, leaders of the Heartsease Volunteer Fire Department said they wouldn’t be able to fight fires safely.

“I was not expecting this at all,” Wooten said. “It’s just a really great thing.”

This spring, a service project was all that stood between Wooten and the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest level in the Boy Scouts of America organization.

The project would need to make an impact in Wooten’s community, and his father came to him with an idea.

“We were kind of thinking about ideas on what to do for the project, and he said Heartsease is really struggling right now,” Wooten said.

Wooten found out that the nearby Heartsease Volunteer Fire Department was in desperate need of new turnout gear, the protective suits firefighters wear in the field.

“We were really struggling with money, we hit rock bottom at one time,” Heartsease Fire Chief James Bowen said. “Every set of turnout gear we had, if it wasn’t outdated, it was burnt up.”

Wooten decided to make his project a fundraiser for the firefighters, aiming to bring in $2,500, enough to buy one new turnout suit.

Over the next month, he went to work selling coupons for Krispy Kreme donuts online and holding a carwash for the cause with the help of many of his friends.

After weeks of work, he didn’t just reach the goal – he smashed it.

In May, Wooten presented the money to the department, which was then able to buy new turnout suits for every firefighter on staff.

“There’s so much that that money means to us, we really appreciate it,” Bowen said. “If you don’t have turnout gear, you can’t fight fires, and if we can’t fight fires, we can’t do the job to protect and serve our community.”

Even though the project earned him the rank of Eagle Scout, Wooten said the best part was the impact it’s had on the station.

“I have a special connection with them, and it definitely means a lot that they’re always here to protect us,” Wooten said. “Honestly, I don’t have any words.”

“It’s just great that I’m able to do this for my community and especially the station,” he continued. “It’s just a really great thing to do.”

After the fundraiser’s success, Wooten was looking forward to his Court of Honor ceremony in June where he would officially become an Eagle Scout.


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