Partnership will help children worldwide

6:08 PM, Dec 18, 2012   |    comments
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The state 4-H program headquartered at the UT campus has formed a unique partnership with Operation Christmas Child.

Here in Tennessee more than 300,000 young people participate in 4-H from 4th grade through college.

The youth organization is partnering with a non-profit that helps children across the world.

Shoeboxes arrive packed with gifts every year at Christmas to make the holidays happy for children in poor countries.

"Operation Christmas Child is an organization that effects the world," Brennan Lytle explained.

He has packed shoeboxes with his church and is a long time 4-H member who is now a student at the University of Tennessee. He is heading up a partnership between the two groups.

"I think it's a great pair because they're both youth development organizations in their own particular way," Lytle said.

UT Extension Specialist Justin Crowe said, "A Tennessee 4-H alum who now works for Operation Christmas Child in their national headquarters in Boone, North Carolina and she reached out to me if there was any way we could partner because it just makes sense."

Justin Crowe explains UT is 4-H headquarters for the state, promoting the four Hs in 4-H.

"They stand for head, heart, hands and heart," Lytle said.

The 4H pledge and motto says in part... Pledging my hands to larger service and my health to better living for my club, my community, my country and my world.

"Samaritan's purse and Operation Christmas Child, their goal is to reach out to young people in countries around the world," Crowe said.

Collection barrels will show up on campus next month.

"We're going to do toys, basic necesities like toothbrushes, toothpastes, combs," Lytle said.

They won't pack shoeboxes but instead will pack plastic containers with lids. They travel better than cardboard boxes and the recipients can use them after the fact to collect rain water and store items. It is a gift within a gift.

"Each month we'll collect a different item and toward the end of the year we'll actually have a packing party where we'll bring all of those items together and pack it," Crowe said. "We are excited about this partnership. We're looking forward to the natural alignment about what we do in 4-H and what the Operation Christmas Child mission is."

Fliers will announce the on-campus effort in January then UT hopes to extend it state wide.  

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