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Ohio 4-H Youth Development

Ohio State University Extension


4-H Members Deliver Smiles to Senior Citizens

Members of the Jackson County Livestock 4-H Club smile with goody bags they decorated.

A powerful collaboration between Wood County 4-H and the Wood County Committee on Aging provided smiles for more than 735 senior citizens in October. Along with hand-delivered meals, the seniors received goody bags curated by 4-H’ers.

The idea stemmed from the 4-H Postal Project, a program that began during the COVID-19 pandemic in which 4-H members sent letters to individuals sheltering at home. Jennifer Morlock, 4-H program assistant, said, “I thought about our membership and what a great club activity it would be to create small craft items 4-H members pose with handmade goody bags to gift to senior deliver to all participants of the meal program, place them in 4-H decorated bags, and deliver on a date designated as 4-H Day.”

One phone call to the Committee on Aging food kitchen was all it took and “4-H Senior Smiles” was born. Throughout the summer, more than 20 clubs crafted items such as origami critters and suncatchers, while others gathered puzzle books and treats to accompany meals.

Members and volunteers were excited and filled with pride as they dropped off their smile bags to the Extension office. Volunteer Sarah Weaver expressed how delighted her club members were about creating items for the program. “This was 4-H members get together to make crafts for senior excellent project and my members enjoyed it. It was a great way for them to give back to people who have given so much to our communities.”

It was a beautiful fall day when boxes and boxes of goody bags were dropped off at the senior center production kitchen. “Seniors like gifts from kids,” said Angie Bradford, director of food service for the Wood County Committee on Aging. “The 4-H’ers spent a lot of time on this project, and we are so grateful.”

Two recipients show off the craft items they received.Inside the colorful 4-H bags, participants found painted clothespins with inspirational messages, brightly colored ceramic tiles, books, puzzles, and flower pens. Some of the bags contained lip balm, hand cream, sugar-free candy for those with diabetes, and holiday ornaments. “They thought of everything!” said Bradford.

Morlock realized what a difference these small gifts meant to the recipients. “Pledging our hands to larger service and illustrating to our members how we can make a difference year after year remains in the forefront of our program. It is heartwarming to witness our 4-H members and volunteers serving others in multiple ways.”