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Palm Beach and Miami-Dade County 4-H Partners with Boy Scout Troop, Local Churches and Many Other Donors to Bring Hurricane Relief Supplies to the Florida Panhandle

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — After Hurricane Michael left a path of destruction in the Florida Panhandle, members of University of Florida’s youth development program, Florida 4-H, jumped into action doing what it does best: serving the community.

Through its dedicated youth members and adult volunteers, 4-H youth in Palm Beach County gathered donations of paper products, hammers, nails, three generators and other supplies to distribute to 4-H families affected by the storm. Youth partnered with Reese Leach of Grace Presbyterian Church in Lantana and Boy Scout Troop 215 led by Eagle Scout Charles Crighton, who organized the collection of items as part of his Eagle Scout project.

“UF/IFAS Extension Palm Beach County and its 4-H program provided the network connection, transportation and people power at the right time to get the supplies to the people that need them the most,” said Noelle Guay, the county 4-H agent. “The members of Grace’s presbytery were excited to put the plan into action. Neighbors helping neighbors!”

These supplies were delivered to UF/IFAS Extension Miami-Dade County office in Homestead, where Miami-Dade 4-H volunteers, local churches, 4-H families, and other individuals and businesses donated many additional supplies including, another generator, animal feed, hay, tools, food items and other supplies. Additionally several animal feeders were built and four large water tanks were donated for the livestock animals raised by 4-H members in Panhandle.

But the supplies still needed to get to the Panhandle. Miami-Dade County 4-H volunteers Jessica Davila and her husband Christian Davila, along with their 12-year-old son Anthony and 6-month-old daughter Abbie and the family pet, drove to the Panhandle, purchasing more hay and 12 gallons of extremely needed chainsaw oil on the way, and delivered all donated supplies to 4-H volunteers at Jackson County. The entire trip took 48 hours.

Anthony Davila loads animal feed bags at Sunset Feed Supply.

“After Hurricane Irma last year, many 4-H volunteers, including some from the Panhandle, traveled to south Florida to help several families, including the Davilas, by helping rebuild the animal enclosures on their properties. So, after Hurricane Michael, Jessica and Christian knew they had to go to the Panhandle and offer the same support,” said Teresa Olczyk, director of UF/IFAS Extension Miami-Dade County.

The donation project was a team effort, with UF/IFAS Extension faculty in both Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties all playing a role.

“The Extension and 4-H community coming together to help others exemplified the passion, kindness and dedication of the citizens in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties. This generosity, collaboration, and teamwork exemplifies the third ‘H’, in 4-H, which our youth and adults pledge their ‘hands to larger service,’” said Guay. “We are proud to have such a remarkable 4-H community here in South Florida.”

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The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

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