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4-H fulfills Christmas prayer
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“We’ve been praying for a computer,” said Crystal Clinton.

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“In every single class they have to log into something, and he’s never been able to do it,” she said of her fourth grade son, Caden Coody.

Coody is a 4-H member and fourth grade student at Rocky Plains Elementary.

Students are encouraged to use programs such as MobyMax, an online based study resource for practice in nearly every subject, but until now the family could only access it on mom’s phone.

In November, Coody brought home his 4-H newsletter and showed his mom an article on the Georgia 4-H Need-a-Computer program.

Around 1999, Walton County 4-H member Rachel McCarthy asked George Walton Academy to donate old computers to 4-H to allow her to refurbish them for children who didn’t have a computer.

Her father, Jim McCarthy, said the school generally replaces about 20% of their computers each year. Some schools will make those computers available to faculty and staff or recycle them.

“We were fortunate that I had an administration that believed in giving back,” said Jim.

George Walton donated computers to Rachel’s 4-H service project, and after she graduated her younger sister Amanda continued the program.

It eventually became a statewide project as part of the Georgia 4-H Communications and Technology Team under the direction of state 4-H specialist Cheryl Varnadoe. The McCarthy family continues to support the program by offering to fix, replace or repair computers for 30-days.

Each year, Georgia 4-H members can apply for one of the refurbished computers.

This year more than 50 4-H members across the state applied for 16 available computers.

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CJ Harris and Lavendar Harris, Georgia 4-H Communications and Technology Team members from Newton County, joined 4-H extension agent Terri Fullerton and 4-H program assistant Kim Lawrence at Rocky Plains to surprise Coody with his computer.

As Coody’s name was announced in front of the entire 4th grade, teachers and students sent streamers flying in his direction as he laid his head on the table.

“I got really shy,” said Coody, as he shyly looked down again.

They chanted his name as he came forward to receive his computer.

Coody’s teacher, Linda Linton, said in her recommendation, “He is currently one of my top students.  However, this is not an easy task when research or using educational web based programs is needed. He currently has a very difficult time researching and using expected programs to practice for success in school.  I think that his having a computer that works will enhance his educational and 4-H experiences tremendously.  He works so hard at everything he attempts, and does so with such an amazing spirit.”

Coody’s mother said he has always excelled in school, but that “everything just came so quickly.”

He began reading and writing the first week of Kindergarten, and today reads 400 or 500 page books on medieval fiction or superheroes in just a few days. He writes in 3 spiral-bound notebooks, loves programming, and wants to be an architect.

Coody said his favorite part of 4-H so far has been preparing and presenting a 4-H demonstration in class. He plans to do a new one on storm safety for Project Achievement in January.

He is eagerly awaiting a letter from the school regarding acceptance to the gifted program, and said he looks forward to “extra homework” from Quest.

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He said the computer was top on his Christmas list, and not for the first time.

“It has been a wish for years,” he said.

In addition to helping Coody with school work and expanding his reading and writing opportunities, Clinton said the computer will also help younger brothers Seth and Uriyah with their schoolwork.

“It is really difficult for a Kindergartener to read on a phone screen, but we don’t have any other way,” she said. “This means so much to our family.”

Newton County 4-H serves youth in 1st through 12th grades through in school and community based club meetings, service projects, leadership opportunities, public speaking competitions and more. Contact UGA extension agent Terri Fullerton at 770-784-2010 for more information.

Terri Fullerton is a County Extension Agent in 4-H Youth with University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.