In order to become an Eagle Scout, 16-year-old P.J. Peter had to build something that would benefit the community.
"I wanted to do something other than what someone would normally do as an Eagle project, such as make a bench or fix up a park or something of that nature," the Hilton Head Island teenager said.
P.J.'s parents, Robin Rhine and Philip Peter, own LowCountry Baby in Pineland Station, and he knew the mall was looking for someone to put together a Christmas village for the holidays.
Rhine said a representative of the Wheeler Benefit Foundation contacted P.J. to ask if he would like to do the project. The foundation is the charity arm of Wheeler Interests, which owns Pineland Station. Word had spread about P.J.'s interest in trains, and the foundation thought he might want to get involved.
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P.J. loved the idea.
So he gathered up the family train sets and Christmas houses, raised some money for supplies, bought a few more houses for the village and took a trip to Staples for some Styrofoam. He said he bought all the styrofoam the store had.
Then P.J. and his father, along with some help from Boy Scouts Troop 245, broke up the styrofoam into tiny pieces to look like snow and laid out the village.
What he ended up with was a 16-by-16-foot Christmas village made up of about 80 houses and three train tracks.
"A Very Pineland Christmas" will be on display Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 22. The exhibit is set up in the space next door to Too Cute in Pineland Station.
And to help the community, P.J. is asking visitors to bring a donation to one of two local charities. He will be collecting canned goods and unwrapped toys for The Deep Well Project and monetary donations for Deep Well and Hilton Head Humane Association.
P.J.'s friends from the Hilton Head Island High School Beta Club will collect the donations at the door. And the Hilton Head Island Camera Club will provide free pet photos with Santa on Saturday.
"People should come out because it benefits the community," P.J. said. "And while you're donating, you might as well see the cool village."