My Hands to Larger Service…

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Steve Sutton, Assistant Director Tennessee 4-H Foundation

During this time of great need in our communities, we would do well to remember the 4-H pledge. As 4‑H members and alumni we have promised our “hands to larger service” many times as we’ve recited the pledge. Now is the time to put those words into action.

For most (if not all) of us, COVID-19 feels uncertain and scary, but in spite of those feelings, many of us are moved to help. What can you do to assist and support others, be they family members, members of your community or fellow humans across the globe during this pandemic? Here are a few suggestions.

Check on your neighbors. Call or text your neighbors (especially elderly neighbors) to make sure they’re doing okay. Ask if there is anything that they need (be it a box of tissues or a cup of sugar). If you have what they’re looking for, offer to leave it outside their front door so that they can pick it up without coming in direct contact with you.

Waste not, want not. For many of us, the mad dash to the grocery store happened about a week ago. And if we’re lucky, our pantries, freezers, and fridges are stocked with the necessities. But, as grocery store shelves continue to empty, we can’t keep counting on restocking as usual, and so it’s very important that we use (cook it, eat it, share it, store it) what we have.

Make a donation. While many of us are busy hunkering down at home, millions of nonprofit professionals all over the world are working to continue to deliver services and implement pro- grams, uninterrupted. This is going to be more and more difficult. If you have the resources, consider making a donation to your favorite organization. It doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary. It can be donation of food to your local food bank. Many of our fellow citizens are in need after recent job loss.

Remember those on the front lines. Once we’re on the other side of this crisis, they’re are going to be a whole lot of people to thank. Grocery store clerks, domestic workers, nurses and doctors, police officers and fire fighters, the people who work at the laundromat, sanitation workers, delivery people, teachers who taught virtually and others as the list goes on. We may not be able to do much right now, but we can certainly get a head start on finding ways to show our gratitude. Take some time over the next days and weeks to consider how you might show your appreciation. Call up your local police department and ask if they’d be willing to accept a delivery of a few pizzas as a small token of your appreciation; encourage your market to allow cashiers to put out tip jars for the duration of the pandemic; put a box of goods next to your front door with a message thanking delivery people and encouraging them to help themselves; make a banner or yard sign to leave in a teacher’s or healthcare worker’s yard.

Use the skills you learned in 4-H. Make facemasks for those who may not have access to one. Bake a homemade treat for a neighbor or friend. Start a garden to share with others this summer. Donate your market animal to a local food bank. Get creative! The possibilities are endless.

Take care of yourself! As they say, secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others. In other words, self-care is incredibly important at a time like this. Making safe and smart choices is a civic duty of the utmost importance. Keep your social distance. Wear a mask if you have to go out. Avoid meeting your friends no matter how badly you want to see them. Stay home and help save lives. For some, doing your part will simply mean taking care of yourself. And that’s okay!