Emergency shelter gets a lot of HUGS

The Tulsa County Emergency Center recently received a lot of HUGS, and Charlotte L. Richert couldn’t be more proud.
HUGS is the brainchild of the Tulsa County Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Science, and has been copied many times since.
It was at the suggestion of Earlene Wilson, Tulsa County Clerk, that the county agency be considered for HUGS — Hats, Underwear, Gloves Scarves/Socks.
The items were presented by the Home and Community Education group, formerly the Extension Homemakers.
‘‘It was exciting for me to see this effort because I didn’t have anything to do with it,’’ Richert said. ‘‘It has been a few years since I have heard about an active HUGS project, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been happening.’’
The Emergency Shelter was mentioned as a possible recipient and people learned about the good things that group was doing.
Home Community Education members enthusiastically took to the effort. In addition to purchased items, they applied personal needlework skills.
Donated items included: 218 tote bags; 179 children’s books; 114 pairs of socks; 69 fabric bears; 67 pairs of gloves; 50 stuffed animals; 46 hats; 30 little/lap quilts; 27 cloth books; 26 sets of underwear; 16 scarves; 8 pairs of pajamas; 4 sweatshirts and one box of baby wipes. Numerous other items, including toothbrushes, toothpaste and ziplock bags also were donated.
HCE members learned that families often went to the Emergency Shelter with any belongings they might be able to collect from their homes in trash bags, Richert said. The tote bags provided them a way to carry items they received from the shelter. A lot of thought and love and obviously time had been given to the project.
This type of program enables people to do something good for others, especially during the holidays, she said. ‘‘Most of us take things for granted and are content to live our own lives.’’
These items will make a difference in a lot of lives and will be enjoyed for a long time.
There were other programs existing when Richert developed the local program 13 years ago.
‘‘I was a chaperone on a 4-H trip and had a few moments of quiet time,’’ she said. ‘‘I kept struggling with the realization and challenge that area 4-H clubs were in urban areas. They needed a project that would do something good for others and attract media attention.’’
A National 4-H Counsel grant provided seed money for the program and others thought it was a cool idea since club members wrote the grant for the money, Richert said. The first year a total of 250 items were collected. Then the collection numbers started doubling as the program caught on and continued for seven years.
HUGS recently was utilized by a 4-H member in Kansas who needed a senior project at her school, she said. ‘‘I have had calls from other states and have no idea how far it has spread.”
Sometimes 4-H Club members would collect HUGS items as part of the Tulsa County effort then use them in their own community, Richert said. That definitely was OK.
Richert recently learned about a girl using the HUGS concept for a project at her church.
She didn’t call and ask permission and the county extension educator didn’t know how closely the concept was followed.
It didn’t make any difference.
Instead, Richert was thrilled that a long ago idea was still active.

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