Gannon Walz is giving back to the Minot community this Christmas season with his Eagle Scout project.
Walz, a sophomore at Minot High School-Central Campus and a member of Boy Scout Troop 411, refurbished a wooden train engine and built from scratch a train car to be used as a donation drop-off site this week for the Horn of Plenty program’s toy drive. His train cars will be set up at 1112 Main St. S. this week. The toys will be collected next Friday and eventually will be given to needy children to make their Christmas bright.
The train that Walz built is part of a community wide holiday train effort. When the annual CP Rail Holiday Train was canceled this year, the Minot Daily News and the Minot Area Homeless Coalition teamed up to collect nonperishable food items and toiletries to increase the inventory for the Lord’s Cupboard. Money donations will be taken to support the homeless coalition in helping with rent and utility needs in the community. The donation drive began Nov. 24 and continues through Dec. 18. People in the community were invited to build holiday trains, either homemade or from a model kit, that will be on display in businesses throughout Minot.
The wooden train engine that Gannon Walz worked on was donated by Denise Lindbo, owner of High Air Ground and Gourmet Chef in Minot. Lindbo said her uncle, Jim Probst, a woodworker, built the train engine years ago for her oldest son who loved trains. It later was located at the old Wells Fargo building in downtown Minot and Probst decided to “pay it forward” and donate it to Walz for the toy drive.
Gannon Walz’s dad, Khris Walz, said Gannon sanded and repainted the engine and then built a second train car from scratch to serve as the donation site. Other boys from this Scout troop also helped him paint the train car.
At first he thought it was just going to be a train and now “I think it’s going to look pretty good,” he said.
Gannon Walz said they might eventually donate the wooden train to the YWCA when it is done being used for donations.
Eagle Scout candidates often help each other with different community service projects. Last spring Walz helped his friend with a project to complete a tortoise enclosure at the Roosevelt Park Zoo.
Walz has been a Boy Scout since he started school.
He has been on three High Adventure trips through Scouting and this past summer he canoed 130 miles in the Boundary Waters.
His dad, who goes along on the trips, said Scouting has helped his son build confidence and grow mentally and physically. They also give back a lot to the community.
Eagle Scouts have to present information about their projects to a panel and answer questions about what they did. That presentation has had to be delayed because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Walz said he might not be able to do that until next summer or to have the honor court that is usually held to mark the occasion.
For now, a sense of accomplishment and helping children to enjoy the Christmas season will have to be his reward.