Reed Marcum said he’s come a long way from being a nervous kid in his first speech contest to being inducted to the Oklahoma 4-H Hall of Fame.

The McAlester High School senior was inducted on Thursday night during the Oklahoma 4-H Roundup at Oklahoma State University and told attendees his career of community service started with motivation from Donna Curry, the former Frink-Chambers Schools counselor and teacher who recently died of a brain aneurysm. Reed said Curry encouraged him to enter that contest in first grade and he ended up winning it to launch his 4-H career.

“Mrs. Curry, I wouldn’t be on this stage without you,” Reed said. “That’s plain and simple. I know you’ve touched so many people in this room and in Pittsburg County.”

Reed organizes the annual J. Michael Miller Book Bag Giveaway with his stepdad, J. Michael Miller, his mom, Angie, with the help of volunteers to give students a bag full of school supplies before the start of each academic year.

The idea for the event originated years ago after Reed saw fellow students with few school supplies. The first book bag giveaway provided roughly 1,000 bags, with more than 12,000 given away in the past four years.

This year's event is set for 10 a.m. Aug. 6 at 323 ½ E. Carl Albert Parkway in downtown McAlester — with a goal of giving away 7,000 bags.

They also organize a massive toy giveaway each year around Christmas — with cars lining streets for miles as children await their turn to pick a toy.

The events honor the memory of Hudson Campbell, the 2-year-old child of Kelley and Michael Campbell, who died of complications resulting from pediatric cancer in 2018.

Reed started the Hudson Strong Foundation — which recently gained 501 (c) 3 status and raises money toward scholarships for students going into the medical field and toward funding for families going through traumatic experiences like the Campbells did.

He started an auction to raise money toward the foundation and presented checks totaling more than $50,000 from this year’s auction to the wife of the late McAlester Police Officer Danny Kelley, and to Leann Yandell, a teacher at Lakewood Christian School who was recently diagnosed with cancer.

Reed has raised $114,668 through the auction since 2019; plus 43,411 total gifts for children through the toy giveaway; and 20,758 book bags through the school supply giveaway event.

This year's book bag giveaway also honors the Kenna Mattioda, and Reed’s late brother, the late Sgt. Miles Tarron.

“Until I finally see you again, I’ll always have our memories to cherish,” Reed said in his speech.

Pittsburg County 4-H Development Director Greg Owen said he is proud of Reed and his accomplishments.

“If you really get to know Reed, he really does try to find ways constantly to help people,” Owen said.

After the COVID-19 pandemic forced several closures and challenges in the community, Reed started an Easter egg hunt for anyone to enjoy.

Reed soon afterward bought $10 gift cards from several area businesses for a giveaway on social media that brought community support and led to 250 gift cards being won through various ways.

He also volunteers with Keep McAlester Beautiful, competes on the mock trial team and plays football for McAlester High School, and works at the Pepsi bottling plant in McAlester.

“Reed is probably one of the hardest working young people you’ll ever find,” Owen said.

Reed became the fourth state 4-H Hall of Fame inductee from Pittsburg County. Lexey Lerblance became the first such honoree from the county in 2016, followed by Brandi Moore in 2018, and Serena Woodard in 2019.

Applicants for the award must be at least a junior in high school and complete a state record book. Twenty finalists are selected to the Blue Award group and the top 10 finalists undergo interviews for the selection of two Hall of Fame inductees each year.

In his speech that was live streamed on, Reed thanked family, friends and the community for all their support.

“He wouldn’t be able to do a lot of the things that he’s able to do without this community getting behind him,” Owen said.

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