The needy in Bridgewater and neighboring towns have Pete Kivela, of New Milford, to thank for a renovated food pantry in town.

The New Milford Boy Scout recently earned his Eagle Scout rank with a service project focusing on the food pantry.

A member of Troop 31, Pete has earned the rank of Eagle Scout following completion of his service project, for which he coordinated more than 220 person-hours of work to secure new shelving, move the food pantry within the Bridgewater Congregational Church parish house, and renovate where the pantry had previously been housed.

"I've always felt a special connection to hunger-related causes," said Pete. "I've volunteered for several years at Loaves & Fishes (Hospitality House in New Milford) and believe everyone should always have enough to eat.

"When the idea of food pantry renovations came up," he said, "I knew it was the Eagle project for me."

Pete's Eagle Scout Court of Honor will take place Sunday, Jan. 11, at 2 p.m. at the Bridgewater Congregational Church.

Among the guests will be Bridgewater First Selectman Curtis Read, New Milford Mayor Pat Murphy, state Rep. Cecilia Buck-Taylor, R-67, and state Sen. Clark Chapin, R-30.

Pete worked with the Board of Trustees at the Bridgewater Congregational Church and with the Bridgewater Board of Selectmen to organize the project and secure funding for the new shelving units this past spring.

He also solicited donations of construction materials from local businesses, including Ring's End and Sherwin Williams.

A major component of the project was renovating the parish house's fellowship room, where the food pantry had been.

Built-in shelving units had to be removed and the walls sheet-rocked and painted to match the rest of the room.

Pete said matching the wainscoting and trim of the half-century-old room was the most technically challenging part of the project. The final work was completed in September.

"I'm very grateful for all the help and support I had throughout my project," Pete said. "For me, the best part of the project was seeing the improvements come to life.

"The access for the food pantry is improved, because people can access the food much easier when they need to shop there," he said. "It was also great to see the reactions of people who use the parish house when they saw the result of the renovations."

The relocated food pantry is stocked from donations from area residents.

Donations of nonperishable foods, as well as household items like paper goods and cleaning supplies, are always welcome. Donations can be dropped off at the office of the Bridgewater Congregational Church, in the parish house at 10 Clapboard Road.

Boy Scout Troop 31 is chartered by American Legion Post 31 in

New Milford. The Boy Scouts meet Wednesdays

at the United Methodist Church in New

Milford.