“Arkansas — My Club, My Community, My Country, My World,” was the pledge three 4-H participants from Sebastian County in Arkansas lived by to raise $650 for Nebraska flood victims.
Emily Dunn, Jenna Frederick and Kimber Campbell said they saw the destruction of the Nebraska flooding on social media and the news and wanted to help in some form. All three 4-H members are teen leaders, and they decided to raise money for the flooding as a part of their leadership project.
“That’s what 4-H’ers do, help our community,” Dunn said.
Dunn, Frederick and Campbell sold and delivered cupcakes and doughnuts from Julz Bakery in Greenwood, Ark., to residents in Fort Smith and the surrounding areas. Julz Bakery is owned by Campbell’s family, and the teens worked out a deal so that the majority of the profits would go toward the project. With the help of Araceli Oswald, their county extension agent, and other teen leaders, the project started at the beginning of April and continued until the 4-H’ers headed to Grand Island for the National 4-H Shooting Sports Invitational.
“People were really happy that we were doing it, helping out Nebraska,” Dunn said. “There were some people that wouldn’t even buy doughnuts; they just donated.”
Through the process of selling about 300 cupcakes and doughnuts, Frederick said, she met former Nebraska residents in Fort Smith. Those former Nebraskans showed their appreciation with a donation.
“It’s just really heartwarming. We’ve gone through the same thing and now we are helping them,” she said.
Fort Smith experienced severe flooding during the month of May and residents in the area are still working toward rebuilding their damaged houses, businesses and lifestyles. Although Dunn, Frederick and Campbell did not experience any flood damage, their community is highly affected.
Frederick said she lives approximately 10 minutes away from where the May flooding hit, and the surrounding community continues to experience flooding with recent June rainfall.
“You see people whose businesses are gone. Houses are gone. People are devastated,” Campbell said. “It’s so hard to see people’s lives ripped away from them. There is no way to stop the flood.”
Julie Dunn, Emily’s mother and a supporter of the girls’ project, said the girls started the project before knowing they would qualify for the national competition in Nebraska. Once Dunn and Frederick found out they had qualified for nationals, Julie said. it motivated the three girls to complete the project in time to deliver the donations while in Nebraska.
“I was happy to see their motivation and their hearts wanting to help out. They are good-hearted kids and that’s always good to see,” she said. “I’m proud of them.”
Since Dunn and Frederick qualified in air pistol performance for the shooting sports competition in Grand Island, they reached out to the Heartland United Way and delivered the $650 check to its disaster recovery group. Elizabeth Troyer-Miller, the Heartland Disaster Recovery outreach coordinator, met with Dunn and Frederick to accept the check.
“We’ve just been so impressed with the outpouring of support both locally and nationally,” Troyer-Miller said. “We’ve just seen spontaneous checks from people from all over.”
She said having Dunn and Frederick deliver the check directly to the organization was meaningful because it shows that the country is aware that recovery is a long process. There are still families facing the effects of the March flooding.
“There are still opportunities to donate money, to donate time, to donate whatever you have,” Troyer-Miller said. “I think that’s something we need to keep at the forefront of people’s minds. Recovery takes a while and people are still hurting.”
Campbell said she felt there was not enough news coverage about the flooding experienced in Nebraska. Dunn and Frederick said they want other states to know that there is still a big flood recovery issue occurring.
Campbell said experiencing the flood in Arkansas was the motivation that helped the three girls continue the project for Nebraska flood victims. The next project they are considering is making flood bags for the Fort Smith area.
“That’s what makes you want to try harder, that you are helping people,” she said. “It was a good feeling to help people.”