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Posted: November 9, 2013 9:00 p.m.

4-Her's give back to the community

submitted photo/The Covington News

Ever wondered what a million pop tabs look like? Junior 4-H members pose with the 626 pounds of pop tabs collected in Newton County this year, before delivery to Rock Eagle 4-H Center. (L-R) Jacob Dibble, 4-H program assistant Kim Lawrence, teen l...

Drumroll, please …

Newton County 4-H’ers delivered this year’s aluminum pop tab collection to Rock Eagle for the Ronald McDonald Houses of Georgia, and we collected 626 pounds!

The boxes nearly filled an F-150 pickup bed.

According to various estimates online of the average number of tabs per pound, that’s somewhere between 800,000 and one million tabs.

We have already begun the 2014 collection, so keep bringing in those tabs. The City of Oxford will soon have a collection jar for tabs in its offices, so local residents can drop off their tabs when they pay their utility bills.

Overall, Georgia 4-H’ers collected 15,395.72 pounds of pop tabs this year. That’s around 23 million tabs by one estimate and will raise about $7,500 for the Columbus Ronald McDonald House.

Since 2002, 4-H’ers have raised more than $77,748 in support of youth and families in need of the services of Ronald McDonald Houses.

When children are undergoing treatment at a hospital, these homes provide a less expensive and more supportive place for families and youth to stay. Each year we have a couple of Newton 4-H’ers who report having stayed in a Ronald McDonald House at some point in their lives, so they can attest to the importance of this service project.

As anyone who knows 4-H’ers knows, however, wrapping up one annual project just means we’re already halfway through the next month’s service project!

November is our book collection month. Last year, you helped us collect more than 26,000 books for local literacy projects. I’d say we’ve cleaned out every storage unit and dusty shelf in the county, but each year I am pleasantly surprised.

We have a particular need for children’s and baby books. We also have a need for Spanish language materials.

Our 4-H members pass out more than 1,000 books annually at the Covington Christmas parade to children from infants to age 5.

We are also getting ready to fill a "little free library" in a local housing development.

Most adult books will be given to the Newton County Library System in support of its fundraising sales, and other books may be provided to classrooms, day cares and local literacy projects. All books donated will be put to use in our county.

In case you’re curious, we’re also already working on December service projects.

Last year, 4-H’er Lavendar Harris asked her fellow 4-H’ers to participate in two holiday projects that we are continuing this year.

First is a collection of items for the Garden of Gethsemane homeless shelter in Covington. Last year, 4-H members seemed convinced we were taking items to Atlanta until we pulled up in the bus just miles from our office.

You could see the sudden realization on their faces as it finally hit them that men, women and even children are homeless in our own community. It’s not an Atlanta thing; these are our own neighbors.

We are collecting new pillows, twin sheets, blankets, towels and washcloths, winter clothes, new children’s toys, nonperishable food and toiletries.

Last year, several parents used couponing to help us stock up on lots of toiletries for the shelter, and we hope to be able to do that again. Each time I shop I’m reminded how quickly items like shampoo, soap and razors add up when you’re on a tight budget.

The second holiday service project is in appreciation of those working in fire departments on Christmas Day.

We’re collecting homemade and store-bought treats, colas and thank-you cards for these men and women keeping us safe. Last year, we were also able to donate diabetic testing supplies for medics to give out in the community.

If you would like to donate homemade goodies, please plan to deliver them early Monday, Dec. 23. We will divide all donations for families to pick up at lunchtime that day.

Families of 4-H’ers will deliver these treats Dec. 25 as a special Christmas treat.

With so many ways to serve our community, we hope all children get the chance to give this season.

Please bring donations to our office in the Newton County Administration Building weekdays from 8 a.m.–noon or 1–5 p.m..

Terri Kimble Fullerton is Newton County 4-H Agent through UGA Cooperative Extension, can be reached at tkimble@uga.edu.

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