On Veterans Day, Busy Bees made and donated over 20 quilts to Vietnam Veterans. Many of those were presented to those vets during a special ceremony at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds on Nov. 11 and included a beautiful cake and refreshments.
Busy Bees are one of Cleveland County’s Oklahoma Home and Community Education (OHCE) groups. These statewide, county-based organizations have a unique partnership with Oklahoma State University and OSU Extension.
“The veterans that we honored were from Vietnam and they had received a poor reception when they returned home, even though they were drafted,” said Busy Bees President Darlene Owen.
Owen said they had heard about this group of Vietnam veterans who were all in counseling together because of how the negative reactions to their military service had affected them.
“They had not seen each other because of COVID for over a year,” she said. “The letters I got from them, and the comments I got was that the quilt presentation went a long way toward healing the hurt.”
OHCE members like those in the Busy Bees form lasting friendships, learn leadership skills and give back to their communities in numerous ways including volunteer work, community projects, and through scholarships for students.
“I think these groups get people involved in the community,” said Vickie Gray, treasurer of the Sunshine group. “Our OHCE group has a learner lesson each month, so it’s educational, and we also get together and sew. We learn from each other as well.”
While the Sunshine group members also sew at home, they have new sewing machines to use and to share with the community at the Little Axe Community Center thanks to the efforts of OSU Extension Educator Brenda Hill-Alta who did the legwork to get a grant from OSU's State Ambassador Program.
One of the Sunshine group’s community service projects is making fun and colorful pillowcases to donate to the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital. The pillowslips brighten the lives of the children who are staying at the hospital.
In December, the Friendship group put together gift bags for Noble Nursing Home residents, an annual project designed to bring holiday cheer to residents and to make sure those with no family still get something special at Christmas.
Year-round, Cleveland County OHCE members work hard running concession stands, putting on fundraisers and selling nuts at Christmas to raise money to provide $1,500 scholarships to high school seniors for continuing education at colleges, vocational schools and speciality training schools.
“OHCE groups started in 1917 in Cleveland County and have over 100 years of continued meetings,” Hill-Alta said. “These groups give a sense of belonging and fulfillment to the community by helping others better their lives and the lives of their families. Today’s OHCE groups are proudly continuing this tradition and invite others to join in this wonderful organization.”