Waseca County 4-H ambassadors visit Rochester, leave inspired - Waseca MN: News

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Waseca County 4-H ambassadors visit Rochester, leave inspired

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Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 3:47 pm | Updated: 8:44 pm, Thu Feb 21, 2013.

Waseca County 4-H Ambassadors exceeded their own expectations when they visited the Ronald McDonald house in Rochester last weekend.

Year-round the ambassadors have been collecting pop can tabs to donate to the Ronald McDonald house, hoping to bring 14 pails – one per ambassador.

With determination and help from other county ambassadors, Waseca 4-Hers brought 65 pails of tabs to be recycled for a cash donation to the house.

Amy Nelson, 4-H program coordinator, said the tabs, and not the can, are recycled because the alloy in the tabs is more valuable than the can itself.

Last year Nelson said the ambassadors raised $14,000 for the Rochester Ronald McDonald house.

“The money is used for maintaining and running the house,” Nelson said. “They ask for a $10 donation, but don’t turn anyone away who can’t afford it, and many families stay for a long time.”

Collecting turned into a friendly competition to see who could collect the most, and for some it became habit – see a pop can, take off the tab.

The Ronald McDonald House is a nationwide “home away from home” for families who have to travel hundreds of miles for their children’s medical treatments.

Abby Sankovitz, 15, said the trip was inspiring.

“Be happy you’re healthy,” Sankovitz said, “it would be a lot worse.”

Natalie Jewison, 16, recognized how hard it would be to be in the place of the families, and their children, and learned it’s important to not take anything in life for granted.

One of the things that surprised the ambassadors was the spirits of the families – despite going through hardships, they have a strong and optimistic attitude.

“The families really support one another,” said Erin Larson, 18. “They help each other and don’t depend on volunteers. They contribute to the cleaning, etc. while living with other people.”

Nick Jewison, 16, said the house was more inviting than he expected it to be.

“Even though groups from many different families were brought together by misfortune, they were happy,” he said.

Another ambassador, Ben Weller, 16, said that sickness doesn’t necessarily mean suffering because everyone comes to getter to support and bring happiness to one another.

In addition to bringing the tabs and blankets, the ambassadors made and served lasagna for the families and participated in team building exercises and strength finders.

Nelson said the ambassadors, without prodding, began to clean up after dinner, and that she was very proud to see them take initiative and work hard with one another.

During their activities outside the Ronald McDonald house, they were given words such as stamina and hard work and they would take a picture with something they thought represented what the word meant.

In pairs, they were able to get to know one another better and build stronger friendships with other ambassadors outside of their meetings.

“We achieved the goals we planned,” Natalie said, “and accomplished what we needed to do.”

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

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