Children pen letters of gratitude to those who serve

Published 9:27 am Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Local youth were given an opportunity through Shelby County 4-H to write letters of thanks to people who work to help others in the community. (Contributed)

Local youth were given an opportunity through Shelby County 4-H to write letters of thanks to people who work to help others in the community. (Contributed)


It is that special time of year that people give thanks, so Shelby County 4-H wants to give thanks to those who help in the county.

Last year, a couple of the Shelby County 4-H clubs were given a list of some organizations in the county that help others.

Youth were given the opportunity to choose one of these or write a letter to someone else they thought needed some appreciation.

Letters were delivered to the United Way, The Red Cross, the Humane Society, police, firefighters, soldiers, hospital workers, nursing home workers, child advocacy centers, food banks, homeless shelters, clergy and custodians.

This year, a list of three organizations were given as suggestions, but children were encouraged to write letters to as many as they would like.

The three chosen for this year were the Juvenile Detention Facility, the ARC and the Drug Task Force, although one club chose to focus on police and firefighters throughout the county.

Shelby County 4-H Foundation Agent Charity Battles explained the unique advantage she has.

“Personally, my favorite part of this is reading the letters,” she said. “It warms my heart to read some of the touching and personal letters and to read the ones that make me laugh and pictures they sometimes draw. It is a great way to restore faith in our future generations.”

Why write these letters?

•To learn about the community. It is great for kids to learn that there are resources and people working hard to make the world better, and even more exciting to know that there are so many in the county.

•To count one’s blessings and appreciate what one has. This is a good way to develop empathy in children. By understanding what others go through, they are able to put themselves in other people’s shoes. 4-H’ers are encouraged to ask themselves a few questions about each organization. These include: “Why is this important?” “What would happen if this program/organization did not exist?” “What would it be like to work here?” “What kinds of things would make this job hard?”

•To practice the life skill or letter writing and communication. Some kids never write letters outside of the classroom, and this provides a real life opportunity for them to do so.

•To appreciate those who do hard work. This project has a lot to offer youth, but possibly even more to offer those who work in challenging careers. For some to get a letter from someone they don’t know, especially a child, who wants to say “thank you” could be just the reward and motivation they need to continue their good work. These are words people hear less and less, and it is important to make sure kids know how to say them.

“It is my hope that this project will grow larger and larger each year and that it can be something that both 4-H’ers and organizations in the county anticipate,” Battles said. “We encourage our kids to give back. This falls in line with our 4 H’s. Head, Heart, Hands and Health. We are teaching them, creating awareness and concern, and giving them an opportunity to give back. Three out of four H’s isn’t bad.”

Over 50 letters were collected for this project this year from various 4-H clubs in the county. Perhaps this will be some extra encouragement for many who chose to selflessly serve (and sometimes protect) those in the county.