Do you have a guiding principle you strive to live by? Two sisters from West Fork—both active in 4-H Club—follow an inspiring rule of service to others, so we chose them as this month’s Kid Heroes. “Every little thing we can do for others matters,” says Etana Morse, 14. “If everybody does a little it can make a big difference.” Since early childhood, she and her sister Janna, 16, have been using their gifts and skills for good causes, but never has their help been so needed as during this challenging season of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Janna explains why she’s stepping up more than ever: “During this time, empathy, generosity and kindness became powerful tools that helped fuel my desire to make a positive difference. There is still so much work I look forward to doing in order to benefit those in my community.”
The girls, who attend Haas Hall Academy in Fayetteville, can’t seem to do enough! They made over 600 masks to slow down the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and gave them out locally and nationally to health care workers, nursing homes, local grocery stores, the veterans home, Fayetteville Public Library and other groups. They also created a video showing kids how to make their own masks.
When Janna and Etana learned about the problem of hunger in the community, they sprang into action, baking 140 brownies for the Caring Kitchen of the Augustine Foundation that provides to-go meals. They donated 100 packages of banana bread for Muslim students at the Fayetteville Islamic Center. They gathered over 100 items to fill the Free Little Pantries around town, delivered grocery items to the elderly and packed 850 meals at the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank. All totaled, they spent about 26 hours meeting the needs of people who don’t have enough to eat.
One fun project the girls did was making chew toys for dogs—180, to be exact. They distributed the cute pooch-loving toys to neighborhood pet owners, animal shelters and clinics, and mailed them across the country for family and friends. They even made a video tutorial showing how you can create chew toys using old T-shirts.
For most kids, birthdays mean plenty of presents, but when Janna turned 16 in May, she asked for gifts of money—but not so she could buy a new outfit or gadget. Instead, the $300 she received bought three ice cream machines for residents of the VA (Veterans Administration) home in Fayetteville so they could enjoy delicious homemade ice cream. And enjoy it they did, as their Facebook post shows: “We love ice cream … homemade is even better. Janna and her sister have been volunteering at the home for a long time. Thank you for your generosity.”
Many projects were designed to lift the spirits of people feeling isolated during the Covid-19 pandemic. For example, they got 4-H Club members to make cards for graduates of West Fork high school’s class of 2020 and delivered them to the school before the graduation. They took part in a car parade to honor and encourage veterans of the VA home and hospital. They shared activities with family and friends to help them stay positive during the pandemic – such things as gardening, outdoor cooking, and landscaping. They drove by houses of people celebrating birthdays – classmates, a retired police officer, a senior citizen, a 10-year-old boy and others – to deliver food and birthday presents.
Other projects promoted healthy living. Mrs. Morse, who is a research scientist at the University of Arkansas, said her daughters “gave away curry leaf plants and shared the health benefits of curry leaves with 4-H families. It was an opportunity for Janna and Etana to share their diverse family background.” Mrs. Morse is from Sri Lanka and Mr. Morse is Spanish-American.
She added that both girls won prizes for recipe contests. “Janna submitted a recipe to the Arkansas Farm Bureau dairy food contest and won first place,” a prize of $150. “The recipe used milk and cheese they received from a free community meal program. It also had spices to enhance flavor and immunity.” Etana won first place in the Arkansas Farm Bureau’s Rice Is Nice competition for her Summer Rice Salad recipe using healthier brown rice instead of macaroni. “She also won the statewide first place with a $150 cash reward,” Mrs. Morse said.
The sisters’ achievements are awesome indeed, but it’s the heart behind their service that says the most about them. “As their parents it comforts us seeing Janna and Etana have a heart to care for people,” said their mom.
Are you inspired by their story to do more to help others? Whether baking brownies or making birthday cards for veterans, donating food items to a little pantry in your neighborhood, or joining an amazing group like 4-H, just remember, “If everybody does a little it can make a big difference.”
Get involved in these great NWA organizations!
• 4-H Clubs for kids 5-18.
Find your local club online at www.4-h.org
• Northwest Arkansas Food Bank
1378 June Self Dr., Bethel Heights
• Little Free Pantry
2925 N. Old Missouri Rd., Fayetteville
• Arkansas State Veterans Home at Fayetteville. 1179 N. College Ave. 479‑444‑7001
• VA Medical Center – Fayetteville
1100 N. College Ave.
• M&N Augustine Foundation runs the Caring Kitchen in Fayetteville.
479‑442‑5384. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org