r By Diana Boley
rDuring the holiday season, people often look for ways to serve others. In that spirit, UtahrCounty 4-H Teen Ambassadors recently organized a service project to help refugees in their area.
Utah County 4-H (Facebook page) Teen Ambassadors are youth in grades 9-12 who are selected to represent Utah County 4-H. They develop and use leadership skills to provide programs and service to the Utah County 4-H Program. Ambassadors for 2016-2017 are Joshua Boothe of American Fork, Jerod Boley of Saratoga Springs, Autumn Olsen of Springville, and Angelica Coca, Gabriela Coca, Ann Elgaaen and Jane Smith of Provo.
The Ambassadors, along with their adult advisors, brainstormed many different service project ideas, but they all knew they wanted to do something to help the refugee community during the winter and holiday season. The teens discussed ways to reach the most people and devised the Holiday Stocking Service Project. Ambassadors had roles in the project including deciding on the stocking pattern, sending the pattern to the members of 4-H clubs and writing letters to local businesses asking for donations. All Ambassadors approached businesses and people for donations. The Ambassadors worked with the Utah Refugee Connection to help distribute donated items because the organization serves 70 percent of all refugees in Utah.
Utah County 4-H contacted members about the service project via social media and in its monthly newsletter. Many 4-H clubs spent time sewing stockings or bags to hold the collected donations that came from individuals and businesses from throughout Utah County, from Eagle Mountain to Highland to Santaquin.
On Dec. 6, the teens set up an assembly line for the stockings and hoped people would show up. People came from all over Utah County bringing stockings and other items, and more than 118 volunteers – adults, youth and even toddlers – showed up to help stuff the stockings. When it was all done, there were 2,284 items donated and 351 stockings. More than 200 volunteer hours were invested in the service project.
Among the items donated were 418 toothbrushes and toothpaste, 423 winter hats, 124 pairs of gloves, 200 dental floss packages, 272 small toys, 148 pencils, 36 blankets (including 32 handmade afghans), 84 deodorants and 23 jars of Play-Doh.
Utah County 4-H (Website) was able to purchase 100 new winter coats of all sizes through grant funds. These coats and all of the stockings went to refugee children and adults.