Reaching Peers Through Community Service
Youth engaging in community service increase their awareness of challenges their peers may face on a daily basis. Seventeen years ago, 201 children were identified as homeless in Marion County. Alarmingly, the number has now reached approximately 3,000 youth. The Marion County 4-H County Council takes an active role in helping others through collecting and distributing new socks to needy youth each year. The County Council heads up a county-wide effort, encouraging all 39 4-H clubs throughout the county to collect socks. The socks are then distributed to the Homeless Youth Liaison for the Marion County Public School System, Kimberly’s Center and other identified sites to reach those in need.
Providing a simple pair of socks can help a child to have a better day. Putting on a clean, warm pair of socks on a chilly morning creates a positive start to the day. For many children, this may be the only new item of clothing they receive. To date, Marion County 4-H youth have collected and distributed over 1,000 pairs of socks. Our youth have also hosted drives to collect gently used blue jeans, jackets and blankets. These items went directly to needy youth in our community. It is important for children to feel empowered and to realize that their efforts combined with others, have a larger impact. While a pair of socks is a small act of kindness, it teaches an important lesson, to think of the things many of us take for granted. This opens the door to a conversation that children can understand. Once youth understand the challenges many of their peers are facing, they are excited to help those in need. When you put on a pair of socks tomorrow morning, think of the child that slept on the floor or in a car last night. You too can help them to have a better day.