Darren Brown, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma City's HUGS Project got a big boost this week when a small army of teenagers showed up to lend a hand.

State 4H students from the southwest district converged on Cleveland County on Thursday for the Youth Action Council and split up to do community projects.  Half painted a park in Norman, and the other half spent the morning making care packages for American troops serving overseas. 

Kaylee Young is not quite old enough to drive, but she's got  experience in packing care boxes for troops.  She started helping the HUGS Project last year after her cousin was deployed.

"Since I have a cousin over there I knew I'm really helping," said Young.  "Even though I can't go over there and serve my country, I can stay here and make a little box and send to there and that's helping."

The HUGS Project was started over seven years ago, according to Karen Starks, the project's director.  She recalled that it started simply. 

"We thought we were gonna send one guy a few emails," said Starks.  "It has grown because the need was there." 

Starks was encouraged by the interest of the teens in helping the troops.  She claims it wasn't that way when she was in school. 

"During the Vietnam war, I didn't have much of a clue what was going on," Starks said.  "I didn't give it a lot of thought."

THe HUGS Project hope to send five thousand packages to American troops this December.  They're  holding a benefit concert on October 22nd to help pay the costs.

For more info visit www.thehugsproject.com.