Part of 4-H includes empowering youth to make their communities better. So when Cathy Acampora, Administrative Assistant in the Plymouth County office, saw a need to help the homeless in Fall 2020, she didn’t hesitate to help. This is how “4-H Warms the Heart,” a program that involved Plymouth County 4-Hers in making nearly 900 packages of warm winter items for the homeless, was born.
The name “4-H Warms the Heart” originated from the featured body part in the 4-H pledge of Head/Heart/Hands/Health. The gloves in the package will warm the recipients’ hands, but the kindness will warm their hearts, said Cathy.
The ambitious project involved more than 60 4-H youth from 16 different 4-H clubs in 10 different towns. Cathy directed the kids to wrap either fleece scarves and blankets into packages with gloves, socks, lotions, or kids’ crafts, tied up with a ribbon and accompanied by a warm note. She also made approximately 150 similar packages herself.
The packages eventually warmed guests at Bethesda House, Conway House, Friends of the Homeless of South Shore, Otis Air Force Base, L Street Mission, and several other organizations that support the homeless.
Cathy was amazed at the youths’ generosity. “We actually had kids that did 40-50 scarf sets on their own,” she said. “We had kids who really went above and beyond.”
The project made a significant impact on the participating 4-Hers. Cathy asked the youth who had contributed the most packages to also assist in delivering them to those in need. “I wanted them to see part of the process so they could see their effect on people and how appreciative the recipients were.”
The idea certainly worked. Caroline, 18, and a member of Weir the Ponies Club in Hingham, enjoyed the service project. “It was really rewarding, it was really fun, and we were all really happy to do it. It was incredible seeing all the (filled) bags together,” continued Caroline. “Everyone who received the packages was very happy to get them…..it was great helping those in need.”
Samantha, age 11 and a member of the Spirit Fingers Craft Club, also found the experience gratifying. “It was fun to make the packages because I knew I was doing something good. I made three boxes,” she said. Leigh, Samantha’s mother, commented, “The project was a good way to kick off the virtual 4-H season.”
All the materials for the packages, including fleece, gloves, socks, ribbons and cardstock, were donated by Joann Fabrics, a longtime partner of the National 4-H Council.
“This partnership is a gift to so many,” said Cathy. “Our local store in Plymouth is so generous, and when we told them what we were doing with the fleece, they were so thrilled.” Cathy would like to repeat the project, if she can once again secure materials.