4-H youths in Josephine County pack and deliver stockings for soldiers and veterans

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Civic engagement is an important aspect of adolescent development and a core theme of 4-H education, and for the last 10+ years hundreds of soldiers and veterans have opened packages filled with stockings and filled by Oregon State University Extension Service 4-H Youth Development members in Josephine County.

Stockings for Soldiers is a 4-H service project that started when the husband of a 4-H volunteer who was in the National Guard was deployed during Christmas. To date, 4-H'ers in Josephine County have stuffed more than 5,000 stockings.

In December 2023, they packed more than 100 stockings with array of goodies from snacks and hygiene items. They included handwritten cards expressing gratitude and delivered them to veterans residing in Josephine County, specifically at the local veterans' center and several assisted living facilities.

A highlight of the project was caroling during the stockings' deliveries to veterans in assisted living. The 4-H youths sang festive tunes, creating a warm and festive atmosphere that resonated throughout the facilities. The joy and nostalgia invoked by the caroling was clear, bringing smiles to the faces of both the young performers and the veterans.

The benefits of the Stockings for Soldiers project extends beyond the immediate recipients. The 4-H members, through their active involvement, gain valuable experiences in empathy, compassion and community service. This initiative provides a platform for the youth to understand the importance of giving back to those who have sacrificed for our country and instilled in them a sense of responsibility and gratitude.

Furthermore, the project fosters a sense of unity among 4-H members, emphasizing the positive impact that collective efforts can have on the community. The opportunity to interact with veterans, hear their stories and share in the holiday spirit creats lasting memories for the youth, promoting a sense of civic duty and community engagement.

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