Community service... 4-H club style
Now that the fair season is over, 4-H members don’t have much to do, right? Not according to leaders Deb Adamski and Laurie Maystead of the Burr Oak 4-H Club in St. Joseph County, MI. These two busy ladies have arranged for opportunities the 4-H members can serve the area and residents. Their club calendar is full of interesting ways for the members to truly share the 4-H motto.
From October through May, the club works with the local Grange during the monthly fish fry dinners to help serve the diners, refill drink glasses, clean up after the guests have finished and other duties. This is an excellent way for the 4-H club to work with the public and get to know the community. But there is an ulterior motive that finds members willing to help. The Grange building is where the club meets and they are not charged for the use of the facility so they help in order to give back.
In addition, the club is very active in the selling of the TSC (Tractor Supply Company) clovers. This is an annual fundraiser that is held in the fall and spring, and supports the county-wide 4-H program. The store allows for the young people to sell at their location and be visible to the community.
The holidays bring out a whole different way of sharing the 4-H spirit. The Operation Christmas Child project, part of the Samaritan’s Purse organization, benefits every year as the club packs ten shoe boxes to be sent to needy children around the world. The member’s families select different items to donate in order to fill the five girl and five boy boxes for that project. They also donate the funds for the shipping of the shoe boxes.
A very special opportunity is offered to the children to reach out to young patients at the Bronson Hospital (Kalamazoo, MI) Oncology Department in the forms of stockings at Christmas and baskets during the Easter holidays. Again, the families sign up except this time each one will be responsible for an individual on the list. They will provide the stockings or baskets to be delivered to the young patients in time for the holiday celebration.
Another way they give to the needy is by purchasing backpacks and filling them with school supplies. These will be distributed in preparation for the upcoming school year.
Patriotism is very strong in this club with a constant presence at parades and festivals. They assist with the placing of flags in the local cemeteries and salute the flag before each of their meetings.
These young people learn about service, the value of hard work, why they should care about others, the importance of standing up for what you believe in and time management. They are seeing the 4-H motto come to life every month.
And sometimes there are rewards for these sacrifices. Both leaders have been honored at the county level for their dedication to the club and members. Young people from the club have received state awards for their involvement in leadership and civic activities.
At the annual awards dinner in November, some of the members will be honored for their work and achievements. Those same young people will have just completed their duties as servers for the evening, learning that humility and honor come together under the 4-H Clover.