Harvest of the Heart
What does football camp, crafts classes, musical dance and rhythm plus myriad other youth programs have in common?
An extraordinary experience for 60 Morgan County Boys & Girls Club members. Ever expanding, Harvest of the Heart Garden is still setting record numbers on varieties of programs offered through their all-volunteer Christian organization. Known for growing community gardens as an all-volunteer organization, Harvest of the Heart Garden is only one phase of this very active, Morgan County-located organization.
Long known for youth mentoring, Harvest of the Heart celebrated their fifth year with their second annual Boys & Girls Club Camp. It was unique and like no other offered in the county. Monday kicked off with volunteer 4-H'ers Claire Woodward and Lauren Cagle preparing vegetable pizzas as well as raw vegetable tasting. The kids were still asking for vegetables pizzas all week long. Emphasis on the class included healthier diet empowerment with games and the actual process of preparing the pizzas, as the kids munched on all sorts of raw veggies. We bet their moms were surprised when they went home and asked for brocoli, squash and other tasty vegetables to be added to their grocery carts. And in the event the parents cannot afford these fresh, organic vegetables, they have an opportunity to stop by the Harvest Distribution Center on Friday mornings at 10 a.m. to receive free fresh vegetables for their families. This past Friday’s veggies included 13 different varieties, from fresh sweet corn to butternut squash, and don’t let us forget all the eggplants and five different types of peppers (according to the hot tingling of your tongue). Even hard-to-grow beets were offered, as well as the main stay of green beans, tomatoes, yellow squash, cukes and others.
Day two of camp offered a variety of crafts (lighthouse making, bookmarks and faux flower decorating), but football was definitely the biggest highlight for the boys, led by Morgan County football team member Zack Jenkins and his friend, Devine.
Wednesday was the real creativity class – participants made their own personal floral design creation. Several students were encouraged to be floral design entrepreneurs of the future. Harvest Board Member Delores Boulden and Kiki Yenerall led the class, with some surprising wonderful floral displays from the youth.
Delores is well known by the Boys & Girls Club kids – she is a permanent volunteer assigned by Harvest to devote monthly time via Harvest to the club. Some programs include “literacy improvement” or simply crossword or matching games, as well as clothing supply for some of the students. Harvest has invested a lot of effort in making the local Boys & Girls Club a huge part of their collaboration efforts. Even toys and some books have been given to youth, along with clothing. Presents will be collected and distributed to the kids for stocking stuffers later in the year.
Recycled Arts is always a fun activity with Harvest volunteer Linda Thoman. Linda is the guru of a local “Green Society” and actually heads up the Keep Morgan Beautiful and Recycling Event each year, as well as serving on the Madison Greenspace committee. She is always ready to pitch in and show the youth exciting ways to reuse products, like market bags made out of the better quality animal food bags.
Last year participants completed individual creative projects out of shiny papers that you purchase snack items in. This year, Linda felt a need for combined teamwork on joint individual projects being turned into a large mural to hang at the Boys & Girls Club.
Last but not least, Friday offered musical presentation artist Charlie Mac Druiry. Charlie is an accomplished guitarist and song writer. The youth were fascinated by the different sounds a single guitar can make. It was all about rhythm, dancing and making up your own verses to Charlie’s song. It was one of those hours that you just didn’t want to end. Even technical expertise was explained by Charlie, with many questions from the youth.
The musician’s camp was followed by Harvest’s newest addition: “How to Handle Bullying, How Not to Be a Bully, and Bully Avoidance." Being bullied can be verbal or physical. The kids were truthful about being either a recipient of a bully’s actions or actually being a bully themselves. They found new hope on how to walk away from a bad situation and why sometimes a kid may choose to bully others. After the class, many kids made comments that they would change their habits in order to be more considerate of others. Others were glad to know what to do if caught in a bad situation. And still others decided to start reporting and taking up for some of the kids that are being treated unfairly.
All in all, the week-long camp was a great success. And yes, since we started the vegetable phenomenon, we will be showing up with vegetables for youth to carry home this next Friday. Even some DVD games will be delivered to add to the collection that the club already has. Josh Nolan, the new director of Boys & Girls Club, was well pleased with the outcome of the camp. And of course, Harvest will be working monthly with the Boys & Girls Club to insert a little more knowledge and showing that the youth are loved by volunteers who want to make a difference in their lives.
Printed in the September 1, 2011 edition.