Denise Coolman | 10/10/2006 1:44:13 AM
News Release Distributed 11/20/2003
Members of 4-H Clubs across Louisiana are learning what it means to be good citizens, and they’re showing it through a variety of community service projects.
For example, Ouachita Parish 4-H’ers are collecting books to distribute to hospitals and charity organizations in their parish.
The idea for the book drive came about after Lauren Ogles, a 14-year-old 4-H’er at West Ridge Middle School in West Monroe, heard about a toy drive spearheaded by Richland Parish 4-H’er Jody Waller.
"I heard about this toy drive and decided I wanted to do something like that to help people," Ogles said. "I love reading, so I decided to have a book drive.
"Other 4-H’ers in Ouachita Parish helped me collect books and magazines, and we’re going to give them to hospitals, battered women’s shelters, the Ronald McDonald House and places like that," Ogles explained.
Ogles started her book drive with the hope of collecting 1,000 books and magazines. Earlier this month (Nov. 10), she had collected 4,666.
"This is an excellent project for 4-H’ers," said Markaye Russell, an LSU AgCenter agent in Ouachita Parish. "It teaches them to care for other people, as well as how to make their communities better for the people living in them."
4-H is the youth development and outreach program of the nation’s land-grant university system and is operated in Louisiana through the LSU AgCenter. Through a network of 4-H Clubs, youngsters are taught life skills and helped to develop values such as serving their communities and their country.
In the case of the book drive, the idea traveled east from Ouachita Parish into East Carroll Parish, where 4-H’ers are collecting books as part of a project they’re doing with the New Orleans Hornets Basketball Team.
Kris Mayers, an LSU AgCenter 4-H agent for East Carroll Parish, said 4-H’ers there also are conducting food drives around Thanksgiving and Christmas, which will net nonperishable food to give to needy families. And their activities don’t stop with those community service projects. The youngsters also participate in the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer March and raise money for the fight against breast cancer by recruiting individuals and businesses to sponsor them.
"The community service projects have been instrumental, educational and meaningful in the lives of the youth who have participated in the events," Mayers said.
Those are the sorts of values Louisiana 4-H leaders have attempted to instill throughout the program’s history, says Terril Faul, who heads the LSU AgCenter’s statewide 4-H youth development program.
"A 4-H Club is a group of young people who want to use their heads, hearts, hands and health to become the best they can be and to become positive, capable and compassionate members of their communities," Faul says, referring to the Hs in 4-H.
"Today’s 4-H’ers can participate in education projects on aerospace, communications, computers, the environment, electrical energy, horticulture, entomology (insects), photography veterinary science and a whole lot more," Faul continued. "But those are just one part of our overall programs that are designed to help them become the best they can be."
Other examples of community service projects being conducted in 4-H Clubs across the state include:
–In Webster Parish, 4-H’ers hold canned food and toy drives around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Other activities they participate in are a pumpkin decorating contest, where the winning pumpkins are given to nursing homes and hospitals; a school beautification month, environmental stewardship and conservation activities; making valentines for nursing homes; and collecting items to give to the area’s Domestic Abuse Resistance Team.
–Grant Parish 4-H’ers collect food to donate to the Harvest of Hope Mission in Montgomery, and Sabine Parish 4-H’ers collect food to give to the First Baptist Church in Mansfield for their "Feed and Seed" outreach program. The Sabine Parish 4-H’ers will also donate toys for their parish’s annual Toy Run scheduled for Dec. 13 after the Mansfield Christmas parade.
–West Carroll Parish 4-H’ers recently helped raise more than $4,000 for a "Van for Hank." Hank is a disabled child, and the van will help his family transport him around, said Sheila Haynes, LSU AgCenter 4-H agent for West Carroll Parish.
–Bienville Parish 4-H’ers assist with the Prime Time Family Reading program, a home weatherization program, Christmas lighting at the parish courthouse and Ringgold Nurse Care facility, a canned food drive, Toys for DART (Domestic Abuse Resistance Team) and Christmas stockings for children’s homes. They also collect coats for needy children, participate in the St. Jude’s Trailride and the Teddy Bear Drive.
–Caddo Parish 4-H’ers work with the Northwest Food Bank in collecting beans and rice.
–Claiborne Parish 4-H’ers collect nonperishable food items for less fortunate people in their parish.
–Lafayette Parish 4-H’ers work with the Faith House in Lafayette – a shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. The 4-H’ers also participate in Make A Difference Day, the parishwide telephone book recycling program and a parishwide canned food drive.
–Lincoln Parish Homeschool 4-H’ers are holding a communitywide coat drive. Coats and jackets collected will be given to the Salvation Army, Christian Community Action organization and the Rolling Hills Disaster Relief organization.
–Other Lincoln Parish 4-H’ers participate in Santa’s Secret Workshop, a program where toys are given and lunch is served to needy children.
–Livingston Parish 4-H’ers hold a First Aid Drive, where they collect first-aid items such as adhesive bandages, creams, ointments and gauze wraps and distribute those items to local women’s shelters. The 4-H’ers also collect baby items and give them to the Livingston Parish Hope Center.
–Plaquemines Parish 4-H Junior Leaders have been working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help preserve coastal wetlands. They also participate in a horse-mentoring program for disabled children.
–Pointe Coupee 4-H Junior Leaders help with the Team City Cash Program and the Pointe Coupee Animal Shelter pet adoption days program. They also help with a variety of other community and 4-H activities.
–St. Charles Parish 4-H’ers conduct an annual Christmas Social for 400 to 500 senior citizens, and they also conduct a food drive at Thanksgiving. In addition, two Junior Leaders teach the Character Counts! program to about 100 4 year olds.
–Union Parish 4-H’ers are working with their parish’s Domestic Abuse Resistance Team as a community service project this year. The parish clubs have collected school supplies, toys and games; they also have made Christmas stockings and are donating "Birthday boxes," where each box contains cake mix, cake frosting, birthday candles, hats, horns and other birthday party favors. In addition, they also donate Teddy Bears to the Mend A Heart campaign.
–Vernon Parish 4-H’ers help with the parish Christmas parade; May Fest, an annual tourism celebration; the Louisiana Lion’s Children’s Camp, Vernon Cattlemen’s Association quarterly meetings and training sessions, the Vernon Parish Fair and the annual Toys for Tots drive.
–West Baton Rouge Parish 4-H’ers are starting a yearlong program at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge. This program involves crafts and a weekly Christmas party in December for children in the hospital.
To find out more about the opportunities available through the Louisiana 4-H program, visit www.lsuagcenter.com or contact your parish LSU AgCenter office.
Writer: Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or firstname.lastname@example.org