Union County 4-H makes the holiday season a little more special

Guilford College sophomore Nikki Tuttle dances with a young guest at the Union County 4-H Exceptional Children’s Christmas party in 2017.

Nikki Tuttle

Guilford College sophomore Nikki Tuttle dances with a young guest at the Union County 4-H Exceptional Children’s Christmas party in 2017.

The holiday season is the most important time of year when it comes to celebrating family and friends. It’s the season of giving, making others feel special and, most importantly, spreading happiness and joy within your community.

The 4-H organization in Union County, North Carolina, has a unique way of spreading the Christmas spirit. Children with disabilities from the local public schools are invited to participate in a fun holiday party each year. Union County’s 4-H program has hosted this party for more than 10 years.  The 4-H extension agent, Crystal Starkes, pairs volunteers with the kids to have fun at game stations and to make Christmas crafts. As a Union County 4-H’er myself from the ages of 5 to 19, the Exceptional Children’s Christmas party was my all-time favorite volunteering event. I loved the smiles, laughter, cheer and most importantly, the opportunity to celebrate with with such special kids. Having the opportunity to make an impact on the Union County community is heartwarming, especially during a season of such joy. 

National 4-H is the world’s largest youth-serving program. It specializes in youth development from ages 5 to 18,  giving children and teens the chance to learn and grow by doing. Youth are provided a variety of opportunities to learn and participate in educational activities, clubs, camps and community service projects.  4-H is an international program as well, serving nearly 6 million youths worldwide. Everyone is encouraged to join, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender or disability, and the program is free.  With the scale of activities offered, the program relies heavily on volunteer support.

Guilford College is welcoming to people from all walks of life, and it would be fantastic to have an inclusive holiday celebration for local children with disabilities here on campus. Hosting a gathering similar to 4-H’s Exceptional Children’s Christmas party would provide students with volunteer hours and opportunities to get involved in the community and make new friends. Not only would the College benefit from this celebration, but students could cherish the memories for a lifetime.

As we approach the holiday season, Union County’s 4-H program is sure to provide a happy and meaningful holiday celebration. Our Union County Exceptional Children’s service project is annual, and many who attended during their school-age years look forward to this event.

Union County 4-H is delighted to have the help of our our dedicated volunteers once more for the 2022 celebration.  We are thankful that this year, we can continue this event in person and not hold back because of COVID-19 and other health concerns. 4-H is a tremendous organization, and youth can benefit in so many ways by becoming involved. 4-H offers multiple opportunities to volunteer throughout the year,  leaving an imprint that will last a lifetime. Cheers to the holidays and children with disabilities all over the world!