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Gaston County 4-H Explorers Kids Care Club

“By doing projects with the Special
Needs Individuals, I have decided that I would like to
be a Special Education Teacher. From working with this
group, I know that this is something I want to
continue as an adult”

14 Year-old member,
Gaston County 4-H Explorers Kids Care Club
Bessemer City, North Carolina

One of the favorite projects of the Gaston County 4-H Explorers Kids Care Club has been helping people with Special Needs through the Special Olympics Spring Games, through the Special Olympics basketball team and Camp Seratoma, a five week camp for teens and adults. The Club loves to work with the special needs population. They have learned that people with special needs may be different in some ways but they are also like them in many ways. One can see the big impact it has had on one member in the above quote. The impact the Club has made on the community can be clearly seen in all of their projects.

Janet Haynes, facilitator, started the Club because she wanted to work with youth and help them see that they can make a difference in their lives and the lives of others. The 20 youth members, ages 5 to 18 years old, have been very busy making a difference and developing relationships with people in need for the past four years.

One of their biggest and now on-going projects is for the military. The Club does a project for the military several times a year. One project was a big welcome party for local veterans returning home. Janet says, “The project with the military is a great project. Club members get the honor of hearing from local veterans in our area from WWII, Korea and Vietnam. The Club and their families learn about history and gain a better understanding of the sacrifices soldiers make for us every day. We also discuss the sacrifices made by the families of the military.”

In October 2007, through a Bringing Good Moments (BGM) Kids Care Week grant, thanks to Quaker, the premier partner of Kids Care Clubs, the Club was able to “Bring Good Moments to Troops and Veterans. They did this on several fronts:

They delivered 100 Bringing Good Moments Care Bags to local veterans who were appreciative and very grateful that there were youth who wanted to take their time to visit them and say "thank you" for their service to our country. While visiting and delivering some of the BGM Care Bags to veterans at a homeless shelter, the Club learned of their need for clothes and blankets which they promptly supplied and will continue to do so. One of the club members commented, “It makes me feel great to know that I can help make someone's life better.”

With donations from the community, they sent BGM Care Bags to veterans overseas. They have also raised money to send phone cards overseas. They honored veterans at the Veterans’ Day parade by handing out flags. To show support for kids and their families in the military, they sent writing materials to the Wilson Elementary Kids Care Club in Ft. Benning, Georgia (Many of their parents have been deployed for several years) to say thank you for their sacrifice. (See thank-you below from the Ft. Benning Club).

As for local seniors, the Club has had an ongoing relationship with a senior citizens group for the last two and a half years. They host bingo for them every other Thursday and they do special things for them at holidays. They have made some great friends and provided great socialization activities for many of the senior citizens. In return their friends, the seniors, donated funds to help the Club ship their BGM to Troops and Veterans Care Bags overseas. Janet says, “It was great that seniors on a fixed income would work so hard to support us in this effort.”

Other projects the Gaston County 4-H Explorers Kids Care Club has tackled are:

  • River Clean-Up and Labeling Storm Drains and helping with hazardous waste disposal information to educate people that whatever they put in the storm drains will end up in the river and affect the water supply.
  • Feeding and taking care of animals at a local museum on the weekends.
  • Warm – Up America Project -- Assembling blankets for Ronald McDonald Houses and other groups from crocheted squares given to them by knitters.
  • Relay for Life – Walking to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

The Club is in the process of presenting a program with the local Boys and Girls Club that will be teaching them about healthy lifestyles. This will include exercise, healthy eating and avoiding drugs and alcohol.

Janet says, “I have enjoyed seeing the youth learn that volunteering is as much a reward for the volunteer as it is for the recipient. They learned that they have a lot to contribute to society. When they see a problem they will be the ones to ask, ‘OK, what can I do to help?’ As a facilitator, I am honored that I can have a small part in opening their lives up to all the possibilities that they have within their reach to make a difference. I am very grateful to be a part of the Kids Care Clubs program. It is wonderful to have a place where you can share ideas and get new ideas for your group. “

Kids Care Clubs commends the Gaston County 4-H Explorers Kids Care Club for building relationships in their community, especially with veterans, seniors and people with special needs. It is great that they reached out to the Wilson School Kids Care Club and that they participate in national projects as well. Also we applaud the five members of their Club who received the Presidential Service Award in 2007 and the four members who will receive it again this year.

Two acknowledgements from Wilson School Kids Care Club

Dear Gaston County 4-H Explorers Club Kids Care,

“We just got the boxes and thank you! I have taken pictures of some of our Kids Care Club members, as well as some of the kids who have a deployed mom or dad in Iraq. They were able to go through the boxes and pick out items for their parents. Boxes will head out asap! I will send pictures as well as thank you notes. Thanks again for everything---what a blessing you and your Kids Care Club are!

Thanks so much for ALL the goodies! The kids who have a deployed parent were able to go through and pick out items for them. They were so excited. The soldiers received their boxes and were so appreciative of them. All your cards were sent. I sent your address hoping that maybe you will hear from a soldier. My kids will be getting together to write thank you notes to you. Thanks for the gel pens and the other goodies.
Everything rocks!”

Mrs. Evelyn Montgomery
Counselor and Kids Care Club Facilitator
Wilson School Fort Benning, GA

Kids Care Clubs is pleased to be joined by Quaker in providing special recognition for the Club of the Month. Members of the Gaston County 4-H Explorers Kids Care Club will receive a special gift directly from Quaker to share with their families and friends.