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Little Neck Eagle Scout’s project fosters hope for kids

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When Edward Lyon arrived at the home of his foster parents at the age of 3, he had with him only the clothes on his back and an extra pair of sneakers — just one of which had a shoelace.

For years he would consider the things he and any other child in the foster care system should have — “a teddy bear, because it’s like your buddy,” Lyon, now 18, said. “What would I do if I sleep over? I’d need a toothbrush, toothpaste.”

With his own experiences and the needs of some of the nearly 15,000 children in foster care in New York City on his mind, Lyon raised more than $15,000 worth of these kinds of items to distribute as part of his final Eagle Scout project for Troop 183 in Little Neck.

Eddie certainly knows what children in the foster care system are going through. In April 1996, he arrived at the Hollis home of Eve Lyon and her brother, John.

“He was only supposed to stay two weeks,” Lyon said.

Eddie’s biological mother had died, and his father struggled with a drug and alcohol problem. What was supposed to last only two weeks turned into eight years — a time where Eddie bonded with the Lyons as his parents and saw his father once a week at a Manhattan social worker’s office.

After his father died, the Lyons were granted the right to adopt Eddie in May 2004.

“We were thrilled when that was a done deal,” his mother said.

Living in a constant state of uncertainty did not prevent Eddie from pursuing his interests. As a first-grader at PS 94, at 41-77 Little Neck Pkwy., he joined the Cub Scouts and by the fifth-grade he was a Boy Scout. Through the years of his young life, Eddie worked to earn the 21 merit badges necessary to attain the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest in Boy Scouting. One of the requirements of becoming an Eagle Scout is the completion of an extensive service project that demonstrates leadership.

“It’s kind of like an exit project. It’s supposed to affect what you think is important in your community,” he said. “I decided the most important thing was foster care. I didn’t have anything when I arrived.”

So Eddie composed a list of items and started working to gather them: pencils, pens and pads; baseball caps, blankets and bars of soap; washcloths and wallets, jump ropes, books and combs — all solicited through donations from companies such as Tyconderoga, Kohl’s and Random House.

Boxes of items filled a spare bedroom and flowed into the living room. When it was time to sort them into bags, the principal at PS 94 opened the doors to the school on a Saturday for Eddie to fill 140 care packages. He even put a note in for each recipient.

“‘This was an Eagle project,’” he said the note read. “‘It told them I was in their shoes and they shouldn’t be scared.’”

Eddie passed his Eagle Scout Board of Review in April, and soon after he received the commissioner’s Child Advocacy Award from the city Administration for Children’s Services.

On June 11, Eddie will be honored at the Eagle Scout ceremony at the Community Church of Little Neck at 46-16 Little Neck Pkwy.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Updated 10:52 am, October 12, 2011
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