Helping at the holidays: Waseca County 4-H - Waseca MN: News

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Helping at the holidays: Waseca County 4-H

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Posted: Friday, December 14, 2012 6:00 am | Updated: 10:14 am, Fri Dec 14, 2012.

Waseca County 4-H sent out 743 holiday cards for service members and military affiliates last week.

Holiday Mail for Heroes is a national effort that collaborates between the American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes to send cards from all over the country to veterans, military families and service members.

The Waseca County 4-H program has been participating in the holiday card program since 2009.

Amy Nelson, Waseca County 4-H program coordinator said the first year they had a goal to send 200 cards, but ended up sending almost 500. Since then, their goal has been 600 cards. They fell short in 2010 and 2011 but this year they exceeded their goal by more than 100 cards.

There was a box located at the Waseca County 4-H office where the cards were collected – a good use for old or unused holiday cards.

“It’s been a really well-received project because its easy to do and the kids enjoy making the cards,” Nelson said. “We have some past 4-H members serving in the Army and the chances they receive our cards are unlikely, but it gives it a personal touch.”

The American Red Cross collects the cards between October and early December and then distributes them at military installations, veterans hospitals and in other locations.

“People really appreciate (receiving the cards),” Nelson said, “even though they don’t know who it’s from.”

With the Holiday Mail for Heroes program over, Waseca County 4-H continues to focus on more projects for the holidays.

Last year, ambassadors from Waseca County 4-H served families dinner and the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester, and this year they are doing the same.

Fourteen ambassadors want to bring 14 ice cream pails full of pop can tabs with them to the Ronald McDonald House, which provides temporary housing for families for little to no cost, allowing them to remain close to their hospitalized children. The tabs will then be recycled with the proceeds going to the house.

Currently the 4-Hers have about seven pails.

Nelson said anyone interested in donating pop can tabs, can bring in them to the extension office at the Waseca County Fairgrounds. The ambassadors will be going to the Ronald McDonald House on Feb. 17, but pop tab collections are ongoing.

“The money goes towards food, cleaning supplies, anything families might need while they’re staying there,” Nelson said. “They have a lot of volunteer help, but they need to maintain the cost it takes to keep the house running.”

She said in 2011, 1,100 families stayed at the house; 727 were on the house’s waiting list.

“The more money the house brings in, the greater chance they have to expand and help more families.”

Reach reporter Jennifer Holt at 837-5446, or follow her on Twitter at @WCNjennifer

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