The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Sunshine Snippers continues with the Mitten tree project


December 23, 2020

Visitors to FE Miley Elementary School this Christmas season encounter an unusual Christmas Decoration as they walk in the front entrance. The Mitten Tree placed by the local 4-H group is a different sort of Holiday decoration. The tree itself is decorated with hats and gloves for students in need of warm weather gear.

The Mitten Tree service project was the brainchild of Hope Gasvoda, who presented the idea to the club three years ago. Kristie Rutledge, who serves as an organizational leader with the local group, explains: “We try to do several service projects throughout the year with the money they raise when they do their candy fundraiser. And there was a need for hats and gloves in the community. So, we talked to the teachers and staff at the elementary school, and they thought it was a great idea. So three years ago, we did a hat and mitten tree at the elementary school. And the last two years, we’ve had a tree at both the elementary and the library.”

With the proceeds from their fundraiser, the club purchases hats and gloves in bulk.

“This year we had our Christmas party, and then we put them all on the tree. The library already had theirs up, so we just added to it. We leave the extras at the school, because we asked the teachers and people at the library to hand them out if they have family members or people they might know that might not have access to them (but have a need). So they can make sure the extras get sent home, too.”

The candy sale fundraiser is typically done in October. The club members normally go door to door selling candy. However, this year, Covid restrictions altered the plan somewhat. Students instead did their sales online and made phone calls around the community. All of the candies sold come from Martinson’s Ranch Chocolates, out of Huntley, Montana. Most of the ingredients are produced in state.

In addition to the mitten tree, the club takes on other service projects in the community with the funds they raise. In January, 4-H members will be doing a school supply service project as well. This involves purchasing school supplies to help restock the schools with consumable supplies they may have run short on during the year. The project will serve both the High School and Elementary School. Among the supplies slated for purchase are paper, pencils, Expo markers, crayons, etc.

Though fund raising is typically done through the candy sales, many people choose to make donations directly to the 4-H club, rather than purchasing candy. People interested in supporting the local 4-H organization can contact the club directly.

The Big Sandy 4-H club currently has 24 enrolled members. Young people are eligible to participate between the ages of 5 and 19. They must also be enrolled in school. There are currently four 4-H clubs in our county, with our local chapter covering the Big Sandy area.


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