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East Otter Tail County 4-H'ers Sew to Better Their Community

Cutting fabric. Following a pattern. Meeting New Friends. Service. Sewing together a community.

Heather Weller and Ramona Wippler love sewing and wanted to help build that love in other members of their East Otter Tail County community. But the sewing machines available to their 4-H program were few. So they turned to the Minnesota 4-H Foundation for funding through the Helping Hands Grants. Their vision was to use the machines for community service projects and for their own personal projects for exhibit at the county fair.

East Otter Tail County 4-H'ers hold baby blankets they have made
Before purchasing the machines, most 4-H members did not have access to a quality machine on which to build their sewing skills. The machines that were previously were in poor working condition, particularly for the high use they were getting. It was even becoming a safety issue to be operating them!

Approximately 30 4-H youth have regular access to these machines. Since buying the two machines, they have received several messages of thanks from their community service partners. One of the best parts for youth Heather Weller was seeing her club come together to make baby blankets with the new machines. Through doing service with each other, they also grow closer as friends and learn more about one another.

On certain days, the club invites everyone to come and do service together or work on their county fair projects. Since they now have more machines, more youth can work on their projects, and there are more youth trying out the clothing project. They have also been able to invite younger members to learn to sew because the new machines are more reliable and safer than the previous ones.
Younger youth get involved with sewing

In the future, the youth in the sewing project hope to continue with the project days. East Otter Tail County 4-H has started a sewing club in which youth learn basic sewing skills and how to apply them to projects they can wear and use themselves or give to people in need.. The group intends to regularly use their sewing skills in service to their community.

Youth Heather Weller sews on one of the new machines
Weller says that 4-H has positively affected her life in countless ways. "It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me," she said. She is inspired to "be the change you wish to see in the world." Through this Helping Hands Grant, Heather and other 4-H youth in East Otter Tail County are indeed being the change they wish to see. "Youth should participate in 4-H to discover who they really are and what they are passionate about. There is something in 4-H for everyone!"she added.

Each spring the Minnesota 4-H Foundation distributes grants to 4-H clubs that engage youth in building critical life skills. We feature one grantee every month to celebrate wonderful ways Minnesota 4-H'ers are living out the 4-H Pledge. Click here to read about other grant recipients.

Did you know that sewing and service experiences in 4-H happens because of the generosity of donors like you? What sort of impact could your support have on youth who want to build confidence? Your gift could empower Minnesota youth to lead and succeed. They’re just waiting on you. Please give today.

By Laura Wyatt
Minnesota 4-H Foundation

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