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4-H'ers raise money for tornado victims
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's youth have seen their share of tornado and hurricane damage, and they know how much donations from others can help.
Mississippi 4-H members celebrated their organization's 100th anniversary by collecting money during the state 4-H Congress the last week of May to contribute to teachers in Enterprise, Ala., the site of a deadly March tornado that killed eight high school students.
Nelda Starks, 4-H youth development specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said youth take part in a community service project each year during Club Congress.
“Congress is more than just a fun time with other 4-H'ers and competitions; it's a time to live the 4-H motto and pledge to make the best better for our clubs, communities, country and world,” she said.
On the last day of the 2007 Congress at MSU, Mississippi's 4-H presented a check for $1,500 to two Alabama 4-H members from Enterprise.
“It's not about the amount that was raised, but that the young people reached out to help in a time of need,” Starks said.
Evelyn Rachell, regional 4-H and youth development agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, said calls poured into her office with offers of help after the disaster.
“We took our time to figure out the best use for donations, and we decided we wanted to do something special for the teachers,” she said. “They will still need financial assistance as they prepare for next fall.”
Two counties were recognized for the highest contributions. Among the counties with 14 or fewer members taking part in Congress, Walthall County raised the most money. Among those with 15 or more participants, Pontotoc County raised the most.
Pontotoc County 4-H youth agent Sherry Thompson said her community was enthusiastic about this service project.
“In 2001, a deadly tornado hit our county. We had 4-H families living on either side of some of the fatalities,” she said. “We also have a lot of teachers involved in 4-H, and we know how much they can use the money we collected during Congress.”
Walthall County Extension director Lamar Adams said people in his county appreciated all the support they received following Hurricane Katrina.
“We were excited to be able to help someone else out, and we know it will be put to good use,” he said. “We had 4-H alumni, members, volunteers and others from around the community contributing.”