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Our Illinois 4-H Story

Sweet dreams for kids helped by 4-H

For kids in need in Boone and Winnebago counties, kindness is wrapped in a warm sleeping bag.

For four years, 15-year-old 4-H member Serenity Brockman has used her allowance and birthday money to buy child-themed sleeping bags for children in need. This year, Serenity enlisted the help of her fellow Boone County 4-H Federation members.

"It just made me so sad how many children were affected," Serenity said. She has learned of children living in poverty, children abused or neglected, and children affected by accidents or house fires.

On 4-H True Leaders in Service Day, the teen's hard work was rewarded. More than 80 sleeping bags were donated to the project. Serenity said the sleeping bags give children a sense of security. "I want kids to be victors, not victims," she said. The 4-H Federation made bag tags, and Serenity wrote a note with each bag with a wish for peaceful sleep and sweet dreams. The bags were taken to Rock House Kids, a Rockford organization that works to strengthen the spiritual, mental, and physical growth of children.

"Serenity has a heart and passion for helping others," said Melissa Irwin, University of Illinois Extension 4-H youth development program coordinator.

Judy Mae Bingman, University of Illinois Extension Marketing and Communications Manager

Judy uses powerful words and photography to tell the Extension story. She is a skilled communication strategist and storyteller with demonstrated success in building teams and creating strong organizational brand identities that deepen Extension’s impact among key audiences, build brand loyalty, strengthen employee talent, and expand public engagement. She is a frequent conference presenter at the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents Conference and helps Extension staff across the nation tell compelling stories.