Aspiring Eagle Scout builds cat hiding boxes, other items for Baton Rouge animal shelter

Louisiana News

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — A Louisiana boy scout combined his desire to earn the rank of Eagle Scout with his love for animals when he decided to build and donate items that improve shelter cats’ quality of life to a Baton Rouge animal shelter.

When 15-year-old Teviss Crawford had to choose the beneficiary of his service project to climb the ranks within his troop, he knew he wanted to build something to help the animals at CAA.

“I chose CAA because I’ve always loved animals,” Teviss Crawford said.

Although the boy scout and his family adopted a dog from CAA about three years ago, he designed his project to help the shelter’s cats as they await their forever homes.

CAA Philanthropy Director Emily Jackson said the shelter accepts a variety of donations, but it encourages people who want to donate homemade items to run it by the shelter first to see if there’s a need for that particular donation.

After deciding to dedicate his Eagle Scout project to CAA, Teviss Crawford asked shelter staff what items CAA needed, and staffers said they could use items that would benefit its cats.

Teviss Crawford, with the help of a few volunteers, raised money for materials and built 12 wooden cat hiding boxes, two cat towers and six scratching pads. He even made a point to paint them the same shade of blue that’s on CAA’s logo.

Teviss Crawford, 15, gives a “thumbs up” while checking out the cat hiding boxes and similar items he built for and donated to Companion Animal Alliance in Baton Rouge. (Photo by Karli Carpenter)

“I did it,” Teviss Crawford said. “And I was happy to do it.”

The process started when he went on winter break in December. His mother, Marianne Crawford, who oversees Troop 478’s fundraising, helped Teviss Crawford pull off a fundraiser at a Lowe’s store. He sold bags of candy and dog and cat treat bags.

“A lot of people in the community were really supportive when they saw that this would not only help the boy scouts, but that it would also help CAA,” Marianne Crawford said.

People also donated cash for his project, and the fundraiser yielded more than $700. Teviss Crawford donated nearly $150 in cash to CAA.

Jackson said the monetary donation was really helpful for the shelter, and it went toward CAA’s general fund, which funds shelter programs such as story time for pets, helps the shelter purchase treats and toys for pets to give them more activity in the shelter setting, and ensures the shelter keeps its community pet food pantry stocked.

The donation was especially beneficial for the shelter’s cats.

“Our cats really thrive when they have places to hide,” Jackson said. “We found that the little hiding boxes are really helping our barn cats.”

Barn cats are cats that aren’t accustomed to living indoors. The stress of being inside a busy shelter can really affect these cats, Jackson said. Now, these cats have a quiet place to hide from the nearby barking dogs and can escape from the bustling atmosphere of the shelter.

Teviss Crawford returned to the shelter on Saturday and was elated to see the items he donated in the cat area, as well as a caged cat hiding in one of the boxes he made.

A local boy scout aspiring to earn the rank of Eagle Scout built cat hiding boxes, cat towers and scratching pads as part of a service project, and he donated them to Companion Animal Alliance. Out of frame, 15-year-old Teviss Crawford checks out his equipment being put to use on Saturday, March 6. (Photo by Karli Carpenter)

It felt great to see his project through and to know his hard work was worth it, Teviss Crawford said.

And Teviss Crawford surely worked hard on the project, he and his mother agreed.

It took more than a month and a handful of volunteers to complete the project.

“The Eagle project is all about getting people to help you,” Teviss Crawford said.

About 10 of his fellow boy scouts from troop 478 and five or six adults volunteered to help him.

“I basically let him and his troop take over my carport for a month and a half,” Marianne Crawford said.

Teviss Crawford had to come up with a game plan for the project each day, and he had to communicate the plans with the volunteers and make sure they were implemented properly.

Marianne Crawford said that although it wasn’t always easy to take a step back and let her son oversee the project, it helped him further develop his leadership and problem-solving skills.

“Sometimes, it’s hard to not want to intervene,” Marianne Crawford said. “But when you watch your son accomplish something like this, it makes it so much better.”

Teviss Crawford learned more than the typical leadership skills, though.

Working with volunteers to physically build the cat items under a carport during the coronavirus pandemic added more challenges to the project.

Teviss Crawford and the volunteers had to wear masks and social distance while they worked, and they had to sanitize the tools after using them. Some money he raised from the fundraiser even went toward purchasing cleaning products to prevent the potential spread of the virus.

After seeing the project come to fruition and overcoming the added obstacles of the pandemic, Teviss Crawford said he’s looking forward to helping others with their projects, especially if those projects will benefit CAA.

“I’ll be ready to help anybody that wants to,” Teviss Crawford said.

In addition to offering help to others and helping CAA himself, Teviss Crawford was part of one more effort related to CAA this winter.

While he was working on his project, his family adopted a second dog from CAA. The Crawfords said they spent so much time at the shelter and working on the project that they figured they might as well help out one more animal.

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