Denise Coolman | 11/14/2006 3:55:54 AM
News Release Distributed 12/10/2003
Soldiers with the National Guard's 528th Engineering Battalion Company C were deploying for Afghanistan Wednesday (Dec. 10). But before they left, members of the LSU AgCenter's 4-H Clubs in West Carroll Parish helped give them a hearty send-off.
Sheila Haynes, an LSU AgCenter 4-H agent in West Carroll Parish, said 4-H’ers gathered at Cindy Kay’s Restaurant in Oak Grove this past weekend to help serve the soldiers meals prepared by the restaurant’s owner and staff.
The 4-H’ers waited on tables and helped in other areas of food service. Haynes said the experience was valuable to the 4-H’ers, and she hopes this service-learning activity will continue through the year with the 4-H Club members adopting pen pals and sending cards and letters to the troops from their area.
The West Carroll 4-H’ers aren’t alone. A number of 4-H Clubs across the state completed similar projects last year and are involved in a number of activities this year – ranging from sending holiday cards and gifts to soldiers overseas to working with family members here at home.
In the case of the West Carroll youngsters, Haynes said the experience served multiple purposes.
"Not only did they learn community service, but they got some good workforce preparation training," Haynes said. "Cindy Kay gave them educational lessons on handwashing and food safety, food service, and waiting on and bussing tables. The 4-H’ers went through the whole food service and cleanup process while they were there."
The soldiers were impressed by the service they got from the 4-H’ers.
"I haven’t been waited on like that in all of my life," said Sgt. Donal Robinson.
Capt. Allen West said the soldiers really appreciated the work done by the 4-H’ers.
"It gave us a sense that children understand a lot more about world situations," West said. "And the soldiers were happy that the children showed their appreciation by doing this."
Members of the battalion will be engaging in engineering missions as needed once they get to Afghanistan, West said.
James Philley and Daniel Herring are two 4-H’ers who helped with the West Carroll Parish community service project.
"This is one of the reasons I joined 4-H," said Philley, a fourth grader at Oak Grove Elementary School. "I like to do things to help out in our community, and being in 4-H lets me do things like this."
Herring, a 12th grader at Oak Grove High School, has been in 4-H since he was in the fourth grade. He also said he likes to help out in the community.
"Being in 4-H gives a person an opportunity to get out and do his or her part in the community," Herring said. "And it makes people feel good to know that they have done something to help others."
Other Louisiana 4-H Clubs currently involved in community-service projects targeting soldiers include clubs in Bossier Parish.
4-H’ers in Bossier participate in a "Troop Fan Mail" drive each year, said Jeannie Crnkovic, an LSU AgCenter 4-H agent. This year, Bossier Parish 4-H’ers wrote 722 letters, which were mailed the week before Thanksgiving. These letters will be distributed to troops by the Friends of Our Troops Organization.
Tangipahoa Parish 4-H’ers are sending care packages and writing notes to troops on a regular basis, while 4-H’ers in Lafourche Parish are making cards and care packages to send to soldiers at Christmas.
And East Carroll Parish 4-H’ers are preparing a gift box for one of their leaders who will be deployed.
In addition, at 4-H Fashion, Food and Fitness Camp in January 2004, campers will make "Cool Ties" to send to soldiers as a service project. These "Cool Ties" are fabric tie-on headbands that can be filled with water to activate pellets that swell to form a cooling gel that helps soldiers keep cool in hot climates.
To find out more about Louisiana 4-H and how you can get involved, go to www.lsuagcenter.com and click on the 4-H clover.
Writer: A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or firstname.lastname@example.org