The congregants of St. Joseph's Church in Jim Thorpe have new kneelers to use during Mass and prayer, thanks to future Eagle Scout Chuck Kimmel Jr., a member of Boy Scout Troop 555, Penn Forest Township.
The church's existing kneelers were worn and had little padding for knees. Kimmel replaced the padding with a thicker foam pad and re-covered each kneeler with a rich, crimson fabric.
"My Scoutmaster (Ray Attewell) brought it up a few years ago," said Kimmel, 16, a junior at Jim Thorpe Area High School. "We thought it would make a good project, because it involves the church." Kimmel is an alter server at St. Joseph's and an active member of the church.
He worked alongside his father, Chuck Kimmel Sr., and other volunteers to complete the project. Father and son quickly learned the job would mean replacing both the padding and cover, though they tried to reuse materials.
"We wanted to use the original fabric, but it wasn't large enough to cover the new foam," Kimmel explained.
Rolls of fabric were given by an anonymous donor. Kimmel spoke before the congregation to raise additional funds, and then once the project was completed, to thank church members for their support.
The project began in April and took nearly 140 man hours and five weekends to complete. Together volunteers re-covered more than 160 kneelers.
Having completed his Eagle project, Kimmel is one step closer to attaining the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank within the Boy Scouts of America. Young men move through ranks by earning merit badges and demonstrating skills that they have learned. To attain Eagle Scout, a Scout must complete a special project and demonstrate leadership, service, and outdoor skills. About 5 percent of Boy Scouts become Eagle Scouts.
Kimmel has been in Scouting for 10 years and hopes to inspire younger Scouts once he reaches Eagle.
"I like being there to motivate the younger kids. When they see me at meetings and then at school, they might think that Scouting is cool," he said. "I want them to succeed."
He thanked his father, Scoutmaster, troop members and the Rev. Frank Baransky for their help and support during the project. Kimmel also thanked Frank Seblin for his tools and time.
Kimmel is the son of Chuck and Mary Louise Kimmel of Jim Thorpe. He is also an active member of the Jim Thorpe High School Video Yearbook staff, and holds a black belt at the School of Martial Arts in Jim Thorpe. He plans to attend a four-year college and is considering a career in business or computers.