Local 4-H’ers help others to make an impact

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 10:35 pm on Friday, January 25, 2013

Dylan Rodriguez, 19, left, and Grace DeGelder, 16, both of Rockford, started “Neverending GRACE,” a 4-H project that raises money for those in need. — Courtesy photo

Through a 4-H project, a young duo hopes to make a difference locally and nationally.

It all started when Grace DeGelder, 16, and Dylan Rodriguez, 19, both of Rockford, heard of the devastation on the east cost from Hurricane Sandy.

“We saw the news and felt like we needed to do something,” Rodriguez said. “We started to brainstorm different ways to give back (to those effect).”

DeGelder said through their 4-H organizations, Barbed Wire and Roses and Tri-County Country, they kept in mind their pledge.

“All 4-H members pledge their head to clearer thinking, their heart to greater loyalty, our hands to larger service, and our health to better living; for our club, our community, our country, and our world,” she said.

DeGelder and Rodriguez decided to step up a fund called “Neverending GRACE,” which is stands for Giving Relief and Caring Everywhere.

“We named it ‘neverending’ in hopes that this project keeps going,” she said. “Once one project ends, we hope to have another one.”

‘Neverending GRACE” was started in December and raised funds to help provide families who lost everything from the store with Christmas gifts.

Through the initial project, the pair partnered with Huntington Banks nationwide on the giving end, and on the receiving end was The United Way.

“In December we raised $1,200 for The United Way to give to (Hurricane) Sandy victims,” DeGelder said. “Forty-eight families received a $25 gift card to Walmart to be included in their Christmas packages.”

Rodriguez said they used the partnership with Huntington Bank and The United Way because it was easier, faster and cheaper to get money to the families so they could receive exactly what they needed.

Collecting items was considered, but it was unclear of what the victims needed and how the items were going to get to them.

“It’s important to step up and reach out to those in need — more of us should take part (in doing so),” Rodriguez said. “If a tragedy were to happen here, I would hope someone would reach out to us as well.”

After funds were collected for victims of Hurricane Sandy, DeGelder and Rodriguez didn’t stop helping.

When the tragedy of the shooting in Connecticut occurred in December, the two knew that is what the next project would raise money for.
“They are forming an advisory board to distribute raised funds appropriately to the families and friends of the victims for such things like counseling, school items, rising expenses from time missed at work, and more,” she said.

“Neverending GRACE” currently has an account open at any Huntington Bank nationwide to raise money for their projects.

People can also visit www.neverendinggrace.org or for a tax-deductible contribution, a check can be made payable to United Way Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fund: Neverending GRACE 7195 Nugent Ave. Rockford, Mich., 49241.

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