GIVING Eagle Scout Matt Domitrovich follows in his older brother's footsteps to make helping the Crisis Shelter of Lawrence County a family affair.

For most people, it is some type of evergreen that plays a key role in their Christmas celebration.

For the Crisis Shelter of Lawrence County, though, holiday joy is coming through a family tree.

Matt Domitrovich, a Mohawk High senior, this week delivered about $900 worth of daily necessities and gift cards to the shelter as the culmination of his Eagle Scout project. He is the second of JoAnn and Bill Domitrovich's three sons to make the shelter the focus of a community outreach effort required to achieve Boy Scouting's highest rank.

"It's really just a special family," said Lynn Merlino, who facilitated Matt's efforts on behalf of the Crisis Shelter. "We're always excited when Eagle Scouts pick us for their projects. A lot of times, young men don't even realize there is a facility like this.

"A lot of it has to do with Matt's parents. His mom has told me how her husband really respects her, and she wants her boys to grow up the same way. She told me the other day, 'I have one more (son, Christopher) for you.' "

Following the lead of his older brother, Brian, Matt turned immediately to the Crisis Shelter when it came time to organize his Eagle Scout project. Merlino directed him to the facility's latest wish list, which it publishes in its newsletter.

"They had a wish list for women who came in with only the clothes on their backs," Matt said. "Just everyday things, like baby food, toothbrush and toothpaste, accessories they wear.

"I called my project 'Hope for the Holidays' because they told me that close to Christmas, they have a lot of domestic cases and it can get pretty crowded up there."

Matt put donation boxes in his school and also solicited donations from local churches and businesses. He even wrote a letter to Gerber, and the baby food giant sent back $100 in coupons, which Matt used to buy bowls, sippy cups, baby food and other items.

Hollywood Video, meanwhile, donated $155 in video gift cards that can be redeemed for movies or video games. These can provide a much-needed diversion for children who had to leave all their toys and games at home.

Ultimately, Matt's project succeeded beyond his inital expectations.

"I wasn't thinking I'd get this much," he said. I wasn't thinking close to $1,000. I thought maybe I'd get a carload.

"It turns out, we have to take three cars to get everything there. I have to get my family and some other Scouts to help us unload everything."

Matt credited the generosity of individuals and local businesses for the success of his efforts. Merlino, though, couldn't say enough about Matt.

"This was a large project," she said. "He acted as the middleman to bring all these donations together. There were a lot of skills he needed to do that -- finances, organization, fiscal responsbility, people skills.

"He wrote all kinds of businesses, attended meetings, met with me, and put a team in place -- his family, other Scouts -- to help him collect everything. He really did a wonderful job."

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