While 4H teaches kids lots of great skills that they will use throughout their lives, such as woodworking, photography, and cooking, it also has a public service component. The 4H motto, “Learn to do by doing”, stretches throughout the organization’s practices. However, as any parent knows, finding the time to do volunteer work can be quite difficult and can be a lot of extra stress for all involved. I wanted to come up with an idea for community service that was fun. Ideally it would help the kids develop and build on the skills they already have. Then it came to me - our club could sponsor a craft program at the library! I would volunteer my time as 4H leader and the club would assist me by providing the supplies I needed. Better still, since I’m the craft leader, I would make the craft nights at the library our actual craft meetings. That way I could be sure I would have kids attending, and I knew the kids from my club would end up helping the other kids with their crafts. I was so excited!
I chose Friday nights for the program because I figured parents would prefer not to do it on a school night and because after-school is already so full of activities. I also told the members of the club that they didn’t have to be enrolled in the 4H crafts project to attend the craft nights. Many of the kids in the club like to come even though they are doing different projects in 4H, and that’s fine with me because everyone shows up excited by what we are going to do on the program nights. The 4H kids are learning to help their neighbours at the same time as they are learning how to complete their own project.
The first night I was really nervous; I didn’t know if anyone would come, if I had chosen an interesting craft, or if it would work out. We were going to fingerknit flowers. My daughter was the only other person in the room who knew how to fingerknit. It was a good thing she did: there were over 10 kids there and I was demonstrating how to fingerknit and making sure everyone got at least one flower made. I was thrilled that they were enjoying learning how to do something so simple and basic. Two weeks later we had another program, and a friend came to help me with the kids. It was a good thing she did because there were even more kids this time. A few kids were having trouble with the basic idea but with a little hands-on attention everyone was a pro by the end of the evening.
Since then we’ve had many programs and have tried out a lot of different skills: recently I showed them how to make pompoms; we’ve also made pop-up cards for valentines, sewn felt mice and cats (I think felt is the perfect medium for kids to earn to sew on) and even made earrings. There is nothing better than seeing a bunch of young girls using pliers to make jewelry.
Overall the program, Hooked: Needles and Pins has been a great success both for the library and the club. Sun Valley Riders 4H is fulfilling its community service obligations, and I am pleased that kids are learning skills that they can use for the rest of their lives. Best of all, we’re all having a great time.
--Sandie Troop, who works at the Annapolis Royal Library