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Posted: December 21, 2013 10:00 p.m.

4-H'ers give back at Christmas

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The Covington Tractor Supply Company raised $1,278 for 4-H through the paper clover campaign, which was the second highest total in Georgia. Celebrating the record fundraiser are (l-r) 4-H agent Terri Fullerton, store manager Kirk Turner, assistan...

There is one last chance to drop off cookies, Little Debbies, candy or colas for the firefighters and medics working all over the county on Christmas Day.

All donations must be at the 4-H office by 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 23. Families of 4-H members will play Santa on Christmas Day, delivering goodies to this group of local residents keeping us safe.

When a couple of 4-H’ers suggested this project last year, I wasn’t sure we would get enough volunteers. After all, it’s a day many of us are rushing around trying to do everything at once.

Instead, this is a project the kids have talked about all year. On the day perhaps most celebrated for giving, each of these 4-H families enjoyed the opportunity to give back to the community. Monday, we will also visit the Garden of Gethsemane homeless shelter with a busload of donations for those without a home at Christmas. One of the greatest surprises for most of our youths, and quite a few adults, has been that the shelter is right here in Covington. No matter how simple our Christmas celebrations may be, no matter how much we feel like Charlie Brown with his little tree, it’s a sobering reminder that we’re still pretty fortunate.

Members Lavendar Harris, CJ Harris and Darien DeBrule came up with both 4-H projects last year, and along with some very coupon-savvy moms and other 4-H’ers, they have once again collected hundreds of toiletries, blankets, jeans, toys and more for the shelter. I heard someone say once that it’s amazing we have trouble fundraising for 4-H when we’re so very good at collecting supplies and funds, but nearly always for some other group in need.

We learned this week that our local Tractor Supply Co. in Covington earned second in the state for the paper clover campaign.

Twice a year, Tractor Supply asks its customers to donate to 4-H.

What was most amazing to me was to stand in line and hear cashiers ask for the donations. It seems like we’re bombarded with requests at every store, so I expected most answers to be a well-practiced, "no."

Instead, cashiers at the Covington store asked, "How much would you like to donate to 4-H?" Over and over again, I heard answers like, "five dollars" or "ten dollars."

Our beginner horse club, led by volunteers Tim and Katie Cannon, also got into the campaign by talking to customers and selling clovers two weekends.

Thanks to the donations of generous customers and the efforts of enthusiastic staff, our local Tractor Supply Company raised $1,278 for 4-H!

Some 60 percent of the funds will be returned directly to our community to sponsor events for the horse club, judging teams and other projects. Thirty percent supports the national 4-H program, while 10 percent goes to Georgia 4-H.

Every penny will benefit youths in leadership, service and learning.

I’d like to especially thank Tractor Supply Co. store #568 manager Kirk Turner and assistant manager Pam Speed for their incredible leadership of this fundraising campaign. Turner also led the fundraising efforts across the district. Nationally, the chain raised a record-breaking $600,000 in less than two weeks for 4-H.

Maybe Lucy gave Charlie Brown some good advice after all.

Charlie told her, "My trouble is Christmas. I just don’t understand it. Instead of feeling happy, I feel sort of let down."

Lucy replied, "You need involvement. You’ll need to get involved in some real Christmas project."

A lot of 4-H families, and a lot of you, have done just that this year.

So now I’m off to finish all those half-finished handmade gifts, bake a few cookies for the fire department, and buy the last ingredients for some gingerbread cookies to share with family and friends.

And I’ll do it with a very full heart thanks to each of you.

Merry Christmas!

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

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