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Merrick Boy Scout raises hundreds for animal shelter in Freeport

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Like many organizations, Bobbi and the Strays, an animal rescue shelter in Freeport, was hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Since the no-kill nonprofit is 99 percent volunteer-based, shelter manager Elyse Jordan said it lost some of its helpers over the past seven months.

“Because our first thing is to take care of the animals, keeping up with the grounds was last on our list,” Jordan said. A wooden fence in the back of the property, which separates one of the play yards from a busy commercial street, needs to be replaced, for example, and a garden under the sign out front has overgrown due to a lack of maintenance.

Wanting to lend a hand, Merrick resident Dante Reitz, of Boy Scout Troop 225, decided he could help the shelter through his Eagle Scout project. As a self-proclaimed animal lover, assisting the shelter by beautifying its grounds was his “indirect” way of helping them out, he said.

“I really like dogs and cats, and they have a good operation down there,” Reitz said of Bobbi and the Strays. “I’m glad to be helping them out.”

To raise money for project materials, the 17-year-old hosted a car wash at Advanced Auto Parts in Merrick on Sept. 27. Together with fellow troop members and scout parents, Reitz raised nearly $700.

“It felt really nice seeing my troop help me out and support me,” he said.

The prospective Eagle Scout plans to buy stockade fencing to replace the “worn, dilapidated” fence behind the shelter, which would help keep the animals safe, Jordan said. And this Saturday, Reitz will weed out the overgrown garden, lay down new mulch and plant flowers.

“It’s really important to get the shelter back to what we used to be — nice, warm and welcoming,” Jordan said, “and it makes us very happy when someone wants to volunteer their time to help us do that.”