Finney County 4-H members sewed blankets and pillowcases for donation

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram
Finney County 4-H Clubs members donated pillowcases and blankets that they sewed as a service project to the Western Kansas Child Advocacy Center on Thursday.

Children helped children as part of a 4-H service project.

Pillowcases and blankets were sewed by area 4-H members and donated to the Western Kansas Child Advocacy Center on Thursday as part of their community service project Sewing for Service.

Jennifer La Salle, Kansas State University Extension Family and Community Wellness agent and 4-H agent, said the project began in 2019 as part of a grant she received from the Western Kansas Community Foundation.

"The 4-H (members) all got together and they learned a sewing skill as they were making these blankets and pillowcases and then they were learning to give back to the community with the skill they had learned (by donating)," she said.

LaSalle said the group began the project in the fall of 2019, but the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down its progress.

"It took us about a year and a half to complete it, but it wouldn't have taken us that long if we hadn't had COVID," she said.

Workshops were held to construct the items and anywhere between eight and 10 people attended each one. Overall there were about 14 4-H members who helped, LaSalle said.

In total, 30 blankets and 30 pillowcases were made, and each of the six area 4-H clubs donated five pillows.

4-H member Katie Mongeau, a high school senior, has been sewing her whole life and helped the younger 4-H members learn to sew.

It was strange to be going back to the basics and helping the younger kids, but it was fun, Mongeau said.

She was happy to be able to help the younger members and to use her sewing skill to help other children in the community through donating to the WKCA Center.

"I like that we're donating to them because you see what people go through and we're able to help them, it really makes it worth it," she said. 

Fellow 4-H member Jaylee Speer, an eighth-grader, agrees. She has also been sewing for years.

"My cousins, they're in 4-H, and they just kind of got me into it and I do animals and stuff, but when I did sewing and heard it was for these kids it made me want to do it even more," she said. "It's cool, because they just do a lot for them (the kids), and I just think it's nice and really good for the kids."

LaSalle said it's nice to see the 4-H members see a project all the way through, from creating an item to donating it.

"If you could see the kids' faces after they made them, they thought, 'I made that?' Because all of them turned out pretty good and they were so excited to see that they had made something," she said. "Now to see where it's going to go to I think will kind of bring closure to our community service project."

Layla Mumgaard, a therapist and child and family advocate at the WKCAC, said the donations were welcome, especially coming from area youths.

"We love it because it's kids helping other kids out," she said. "That's amazing."

Finney County 4-H members Emma Lightner, left, and Lauren Lightner speak with Western Kansas Child Advocacy workers Raquel Perez, center right, and Layla Mumgaard when they donated pillowcases and blankets that they and other 4-H members made on Thursday.

The WKCAC provides child advocacy services to 34 counties in Kansas. Since its inception in 204, about 5,200 children have been interviewed by the WKCAC as of 2020. In 2020 alone, 505 interviews were conducted.

Donations allow the organization to give back to the children they help by providing them with comfort items, Mumgaard said.

They give each child a blanket, pillow and pillowcase, stuffed animal and a backpack with books, craft items, journals, fidget items or other things to help provide comfort to the children they help, Mumgaard said.

"It's something that we can show them, a thank you for coming and talking to us, especially sometimes a lot of the stuff that they talk about can be really hard," she said. "We appreciate them being kids, and we want to give them something that allows them to still be a kid for a little longer."