January 20, 2017

Sew for SoldiersSewing machines were humming recently at the Christian County extension office as 4-H'ers from civilian and military families made pillowcases and scarves to use for protection in sandstorms for military personnel who are overseas or soon-to-be deployed.

The items are part of a larger 4-H community service project called "Sewing for Soldiers" developed by the Christian County staff of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

The project provides an opportunity for the young people in and around the Fort Campbell/ Hopkinsville area to give a token of appreciation to their parents, siblings, friends, neighbors, and community members who serve in the military.

"Sewing sand scarves is extremely easy, but it teaches the children how to use a sewing machine. And they get to learn how to make something for someone else," said Toni Riley, Christian County 4-H agent for youth development.

Riley and Tammy Jordan, Christian County's 4-H program assistant to Fort Campbell, taught 4-H club members sewing basics needed to produce a sand scarf and pillowcase including how to make zigzag stitch and French hem. The sand scarves matched the army uniform, but the 4-H'ers could choose from a variety of colorful patterns for their pillowcase.

As a wife of a veteran, Jordan knows firsthand the scarves and pillowcases are appreciated and helpful to deployed soldiers.

"My husband was deployed to Iraq, and he said a lot of times, even in the winter, they would have sandstorms. He said these scarves would have helped him then," she said.

Ross Van Reenan, a Christian County 4-H'er who has a parent in the military, said it's a good opportunity to show military personnel that they're appreciated. He completed a scarf and took it home to his dad.

"It's hard for people to miss Christmas, other holidays and special occasions; so when we send them things, it's gives them support," he said.

In addition to the 4-H clubs, Riley and Jordan worked with Ann Farrell, a teacher at Lincoln Elementary School at Fort Campbell, to teach the school's third-graders how to make pillowcases.

"One little boy told me he had a dad in Iraq and was sending the pillowcase to him along with his picture and a Christmas card," Farrell said. "I heard a lot of positive responses like that one, which lets you know as a teacher that you're doing something that they like and have fun doing."