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Posted: March 29, 2014 10:00 p.m.

4-H’ers learn actions speak louder than words

If you’re not on Facebook, you probably haven’t heard about the latest polar plunges and make-up-free selfies.

To be honest, you aren’t missing much.

I’ve seen no less than three dozen photos this week of women not wearing makeup, and one man wearing makeup, to raise awareness of breast cancer. 

I haven’t bothered posting a photo, because most of my photos are sans makeup and I’ve yet to figure out how that raises awareness of anything other than the fact that I probably wear the least makeup of any Mary Kay lady on earth.

Then there are the 15 or so videos of people jumping in cold pools and ponds to raise awareness of missions.

Only one photo and one video were accompanied by a comment that the person had also made a donation to cancer research or missions.

Friday night, there were 38 people in the 4-H office raising money for cancer research through a Relay for Life fundraiser. 

That’s 32 kids from first grade to 12th grade not posting photos, but gathering to watch a movie, eat some snacks, play a few games, and raise more than $150 for our Relay team. 

That’s what we call taking action.

Yes, I know, some other teams host fundraisers that net several hundred or even thousand dollars, but for a handful of teens on a Friday night, I call this a pretty successful event.

One day, they’ll graduate and volunteer to lead Relay teams or Dance Marathons or all those other philanthropic events on college campuses.  They’ll raise even more money and come up with even bigger ideas.

Eventually, I hope they’re right back here in Covington, leading businesses, schools and civic organizations in the same way.

We’ve yet to ever be the biggest fundraisers at Relay, but I think we’re raising something else — leaders. Leaders who have a cause.

For each of these youths, the cause is a little different.

Some are really passionate about this particular cause because they have experienced cancer in their own families.

Some are passionate about other causes, like bullying, special needs or environmental issues.

Each is finding a way to connect with other youths and adults to accomplish their cause.

One eighth grader presented her 4-H demonstration this year on the work of the Trevor Project, a group providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people ages 13-24.

She bought a t-shirt to wear, but she’s also actually out talking about the issues facing her peers, and standing up to others when she sees someone being bullied. 

And she is just one of many examples of teens making a difference through action.

Sometimes they try things that don’t really work; and other times they hit a really awesome idea.

Either way, they learn organization, team work and support a good cause.

Not bad work for a Friday night.

Saturday was also busy, with 21 high school sophomores and juniors taking part in the Great American Clean Up.

Well, sort of.

To make the best of a very soggy clean up day, we instead assigned each of the youths to organize their own clean ups.

So instead of one big group, over the next two weeks we’ll have 21 clean ups going on around the county.

Even if you didn’t register for the Great American Clean Up with Keep Covington Newton Beautiful, I encourage you to get out this week and help beautify our community.  If you do a clean up, e-mail how much garbage you found and where to newtonclean@co.newton.ga.us so it can be included in our community-wide total.

As we talked about in club meetings last month, every little bit counts.  Every car kept at home while we carpool and every tiny receipt picked up out of a parking lot makes a difference.

Some fifth graders seemed amazed to figure out that riding the school bus helps the environment, but according to the American School Bus Council, the school bus industry is the largest form of mass transit in the United States.

Each school bus represents 36 fewer cars each day “clogging the morning commute and … polluting the atmosphere.”

What are you doing to make a positive change today?

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