The Olympia Pacesetters 4-H Club of McLean County, Illinois, needs help to fuel the cause feeding the hungry in their community. 4-Hers established Helping Hands Community Center food pantry and clothing exchange in 2008. To provide fresh produce for the food pantry, 4-Hers worked with the village to utilize an empty lot to begin the Stanford Sprouts Community Garden in 2009, becoming a service-learning project for 4-Hers to learn about horticulture while feeding and beautifying their community.
These projects have changed the game in the community. Helping Hands occupies a former church parsonage. 4-Hers have upgraded the space by rebuilding the front porch and repainting the exterior, improving the appearance and safety of the building and neighborhood while learning about woodworking and design. Helping Hands is now a more appealing place for community members to use offered services.
Stanford Sprouts Community Garden was established in an empty lot and ha been cultivated to produce a variety of vegetables. As a service-learning project, 4-Hers have been learning about plant and soil science, nurturing plants, and harvesting food. 4-Hers added flowers to attract beneficial insects for plant pollination and recently learned about water conservation. Their efforts to sustain the environment and use collected rainwater resulted in a rain barrel workshop taught by a volunteer from the local ecology center. 4-Hers build two 285-gallon rain barrels, donated by Earlybird Fertilizer of Stanford, for use at the community garden. The members needed a source from which to collect rainwater and constructed a garden shed with a roof designed to maximize water collection, using materials donated by a local building company.
The 4-H club would like to change the game again by improving upon the existing service-learning projects.
Helping Hands Community Center
The food pantry currently serves approximately 10-15% of Allin Township residents. There is potential to increase reach to more community members, and 4-Hers would like to be prepared to handle that increased need. To meet the anticipated increase, 4-Hers would like to fuel the cause by:
- Purchasing an enclosed trailer to haul more goods donated from the Midwest Food Bank to the food pantry.
- Remodeling the existing food pantry or erecting a storage building to increase space for sorting and storing donated items.
Stanford Sprouts Community Garden
Stanford Sprouts provides the food pantry with over 700 pounds of produce annually. To make the garden more self-sustainable, 4-Hers would like to fuel the cause by:
- Installing wind power or another renewable energy source to charge batteries to power water pumps for the rain barrels to irrigate the garden with collected rainwater.
- Establishing a butterfly/pollinator garden to beautify the community and provide butterflies and other pollinators with a protected habitat.
The 4-H club continues to help fuel the cause of feeding the hungry in Stanford and appreciates your support in helping fuel the momentum for community sustainability.
Thank you to the following organizations for their support of our fuel the cause project:
- Bridgestone Tire (Fuel the Cause): $5,000
- Allin Township: $2,000
- McLean County Timeless Clovers 4-H Alumni (2015 McLean County Fair church service donation and alumni match): $872
Our efforts began during the 2014-2015 4-H year and will continue into 2015-2016. Keep up-to-date with our progress by visiting our website at StanfordHelpingHands.org and following the Helping Hands Community Center and Olympia Pacesetters 4-H Club pages on Facebook.