Val Verde County 4-H members and volunteers offered “Helping Hands” to three local homeowners earlier this month in an event 4-H leaders say they hope will become an annual tradition.

About 35 Val Verde County 4-H youth members, adult 4-H leaders and a group of volunteers from Laughlin Air Force Base on Oct. 10 tackled projects at three local residences.

“I think our inaugural ‘Helping Hands’ event went tremendously well. I think that it can do nothing but grow and get better. We had the opportunity to directly give back to three citizens of our community, and that’s special,” County Agent Emily Grant said after the event.

She said sometimes 4-Hers carry out projects that benefit the entire community, like painting park benches, but the “Helping Hands” event is more personal.

“We were able to directly impact three lives, and that felt special. It’s part of the reason I love the ‘Helping Hands’ program and part of why this event was such a success,” she said.

And that’s the point of 4-H’s “Helping Hands” program, Grant said.

“It’s to directly give back to the people of our community and to thank them for all of their support of 4-H and the programs conducted by the county extension office,” Grant said.

For Val Verde County’s first-ever “Helping Hands” event, the 4-Hers and adult volunteers repainted a kitchen in one home and repaired and painted the trim outside a second house.

The third project consisted of repainting a homeowner’s galvanized metal storage shed.

“We did our best to improve everything that we could and leave it better than we found it,” she said.

Grant said about 35 4-H youth participated in the event.

“Each crew also had a crew chief, who was a 4-H dad who felt he was handy enough to handle these projects, as well as 4-H mom, who made sure everyone was being safe, took pictures and handed out snacks. Each group was also accompanied by two Laughlin Air Force Base volunteers,” Grant said.

Grant said she is hoping “Helping Hands” will be even bigger and better in 2021.

“It will once again be held in conjunction with National 4-H Week, which is typically the second week of October, and we want to see this grow into a truly big event-style project the way it is in other communities across the state.

“The premise is to give back to the community and our citizens. We also want to remind people that the projects do not have to be big projects and the applications are not need-based. Maybe someone would like us to come by and weed or mulch their flower beds or plant a flower bed. Maybe someone would like us to wash their windows. We want to be able to help and serve all of the needs of the community,” Grant said.

Grant said she is “absolutely thankful” for the LAFB volunteers who supported the project.

“I also want to thank our 4-H officers, who got this project going, and raised all the funds we needed to pay for the supplies on all of the projects, so all of it was done at no cost to our citizens. I also want to thank our sponsors, Russell True Value, the Val Verde County Judge and Val Verde County Commissioners Court, the Val Verde Winery, Juarez Livestock, Auto Rebuilders Service Center, Amistad TRI Ventures, T. J. Moore, ACD and many individual sponsors,” Grant said.

Grant said she would like to see the 4-Hers tackle five to 10 projects next year.