Hard times do not begin and end during the holiday season, but the holidays give an added level of stress to families who are already managing everyday stress. Over 5000 people in Bradford County live in a state of lacking food or money for everyday necessitates. The holiday season is meant to be a joyful time, yet some families are facing not-so-joyous realities, like putting food on the table or gifts under the tree. 4-H creates opportunities for our youth to gain various skills and give back to the community in a positive way. 4-H youth have many opportunities to give back to the community in Bradford County. The season of giving does not just start during the holiday for our youth, but it spans all year long. During Thanksgiving and Christmas, the time when families may do without Bradford County 4-H youth selflessly plan and execute ways to make a difference to many by tokens of giving.
October Peanut Butter Challenge
This past October the Bradford County Extension Office participated in the Peanut Butter Challenge that was in full swing with Bradford County residents and youth donating unopened jars of peanut butter to go to those families in need. Peanuts have more protein than any nut (7g per serving), contain more than 30 essential vitamins and minerals, and are a good source of fiber and healthy fats. The state of Florida ranks third nationwide in peanut production (2019) and Florida alone produces 589 million pounds of peanuts a year. Bradford County Extension office alone donated 73 pounds of peanut butter to the food pantry at Grace United Methodists Church in Lawtey, FL. The state of Florida collected 13.5 TONS of this nutritious food pantry staple collected statewide that is now lining the shelves and filling backpacks of our neighbors in need.
November 4-H Club Thanksgiving Drive
During the month of November, the Bradford County 4-H Clubs conducted a club Thanksgiving food drive to help families in need during the Thanksgiving holiday. The clubs and their members donated a gift card to Winn Dixie that would feed a family of 6, and donated a variety foods and worked with a local church to donate food for several families need for a thanksgiving meal basket. The Family and Consumer Sciences Agent taught youth on how to make a variety of different types of breads. At the workshop, they made 38 loafs and donated to Feeding Bradford that would feed families in need.
December The Giving Tree
The most wonderful time of the year is a time when we put others before ourselves. This year the Christmas Giving Tree was decorated with clovers of love. There were green and white clovers, which represented youth in the community between 0 to 18, and white clovers were our seniors above 60. 4-H youth, families, clubs, and supporters had an opportunity to come into the office and pick a clover off the tree, purchase gifts for that youth or senior wrap and return the gift under the tree. This year 26 youth and 6 seniors received an abundance of gifts. The gifts were delivered on December 19. The gratitude, love, and support were very mutual. One Senior adult who is aged 90 was a big supporter of the community in her younger days and stated “I thought I was forgotten; I’ve done so much here in Bradford and I can’t get out anymore, this means so much thank you 4-H.”