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4-H Project Aims To Help During Tragedy | Summer 2013 Out Here Magazine

By Ruste Foster

For Grace DeGelder, 17, and Dylan Rodriguez, 19, of Rockford, Mich., a desire to help people experiencing deep tragedy has launched a unique 4-H project.

The pair created the nonprofit, "neverending GRACE (giving relief and care everywhere)" and its website, neverendinggrace.org, as a 4-H project last December to assist victims of Hurricane Sandy, which caused massive destruction along the East Coast and beyond last October.

The $1,200 they raised in donations provided 48 families a $25 gift card for children's Christmas gifts.

For their next project, they raised money for the Sandy Hook School Support Fund for families affected by the school shooting tragedy in Newtown, Conn.

"It made our classmates think about something bigger than them," Grace says.

As members of the 4-H chapter "Barbed Wire and Roses" in Montcalm County, Mich., Grace and Dylan take their pledge seriously to help people. They also want to become strong leaders and role models for other teenagers.

"4-H is all about the youth stepping out to be leaders," Dylan says. "With our pledge we want to make the world better. We want to raise awareness for people who need help. I see so much destruction, hurt, and sorrow. I put myself in their shoes. They feel alone in the world. If it were me, I'd want to know that others would pray for me and then help."

This project has taught both Grace and Dylan some business and communication skills, but most importantly, they see "neverending GRACE" as a way for America to give back.

"We want to turn it into a nonprofit organization and have our own entity," Dylan says. "There will always be people hurting, and we want to be there to help."

HOW TO HELP

  • Make a tax-deductible donation at neverendinggrace.org.
  • Donate at any Huntington Bank Nationwide to the "neverending GRACE" account by stipulating either: Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fund or Sandy Hook School Support Fund.
  • Write a check payable to United Way, stipulating either of the two causes and mailing it to: "neverending GRACE, 7195 Nugent Ave., Rockford, MI , 49341.

Ruste Foster is a Tennessee writer.