Sioux Falls, SD
While most 15 year olds are worrying about their next test, date or getting the latest electronic device or fashion statement, one KELOLAND high school sophomore has much bigger problems on his mind.
This O'Gorman student wants to help solve world hunger and this teenager is making a dent in the problem, one meal at a time.
Karl Shlanta is selling t-shirts at school to raise money to fight hunger. This Boy Scout working on his Eagle badge wasn't about to just settle on any project to earn it.
"I'm not really good with a hammer and nail, some Eagle Scout projects are building oriented. I wanted to do something away from that; outside the norm," Karl said.
Outside the norm may be an understatement. Karl decided to see if he could feed as many people as possible.
"It is a big goal, a big goal for anybody. He was originally supposed to raise $8,000 to feed 50,000. But he quickly realized the human resources for the project was going to far exceed the meal supply so we raised our sights to 100,000 meals at $14,000 and in about a month, he raised that money through grants and fundraising letters he sent out," dad Mark Shlanta said.
Karl personally approached as many businesses as possible.
"I'm very proud of his perseverance, many months of raising funds and calling on people. Having the courage to call on adults and all the businesses he's contacted. He's written grants. He's 15 and he's written grants. Just the experiences for him are something he can build on his whole life. We are, we're very proud of him," mom Peggy Shlanta said.
In the end, Karl exceeded his goal and raised $20,000 to pack 150,000 meals. He got the entire school and hundreds of volunteers behind him.
"It really shows us how the very things we're trying to teach them through theology classes can come into play in real life. Karl's been a great leader in that way showing them how it's all doable; how one student can make the biggest difference," Campus Minister Jonathan Konz said.
Sister Virginia McCall is here to help pack. She'll take these meals back to her African mission where they will feed school children in Zambia.
"I took them to one of the schools out in the bush and everybody came to school with a little bowl and they ate their food and one of the teachers said, 'We had children that came to school today that never come to school, but they heard there was a meal.' These children can go all day with nothing more than something comparable to our bread for the day. So these meals are really, really important," McCall said.
The sisters will take 100,000 meals with them to Africa. The other 50,000 meals will go to the Feeding South Dakota Backpack program.
All because of one boy with a vision and the determination to see it through.
"And the greater knowledge that when I was 15, I fed 150,000 people. That's something not a lot of people can say," Peggy said.
"I'm getting my Eagle Scout out of this, which is great and I'm also helping to feed thousands of people, so that's also amazing. It kind of means I've done something, left my mark on the world; left my footprint in a sense," Karl said.
A footprint that really can make a difference here at home and around the world.
McCall will take the pre-packaged meals with her to Africa when she returns in January.
Eye on KELOLAND