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Charity, the FFA Way

posted Dec 19, 2013, 8:42 AM by Unknown user
Jessica Cunningham

“FFA is about helping students learn how to develop themselves, have better character, and be better citizens so they can start to grow themselves, as people,” says head of Van Buren’s FFA chapter Susie Bowersox, “I think by doing community service it really gives a chance for certain people’s strengths to shine, and some weaknesses to be improved upon, somebody that’s really quiet in the classroom may be a good student but not very active, but through service they start to interact and get excited.”

FFA is a national organization known for a dedication to community service, and the holiday season is no different. The most notable three events that FFA students and Van Buren students in general participated in for the season were the canned food drive, caroling at Birchaven Village, and also Adopt-a-Family. “The best part of community service is putting a smile on somebody’s face,” Ms. Bowersox admits, “a little kindness goes a long way.”

The canned food drive takes place annually, and is facilitated by both FFA and student council. Student council takes on the effort of creating posters to advertise for the event. Then, when the can time comes FFA students go around to classrooms and collect the cans, which are then checked for expiration, sorted, and boxed. Once all the cans are ready to go, Marathon workers will take a day off work and go around to all the local schools that hosted food drives. They’ll collect the cans, take them to the Salvation Army where they will be sorted again and finally delivered to families who can’t afford a meal for the holidays. The goal for this particular year was 6,000 cans, and with the extension it’s been reported the goal was met. 

Additionally, this is the first year Van Buren FFA has been a part of Adopt-a-Family. In the past they’ve done similar events, like Toys for Tots. The Adopt-a-Family event works through the Salvation Army, and this year FFA adopted three families with seven kids in total. FFA gave $100 gift cards to each of the families, from grocery stores in the area. Next, FFA is given an application for each family with includes a couple big items and many smaller ones. To pay for both the meal and the larger items, money is taken from the FFA account. Ms. Bowersox said the choice to use money from the account was because, “[FFA] does fundraisers throughout the year, we use some of the money from the account to give back to the community.” As for the smaller gifts, students enrolled in agricultural classes currently are each responsible for either buying one of them or pitching in money for more expensive items as a group. After the gifts are bought and wrapped, Ms. Bowersox says they’ll, “get to meet with the families and watch them open some of their gifts,” and the other gifts will be saved for Christmas morning.

The last community service event FFA did for the season took place at Birchaven Village. Students will make Christmas cards which will be delivered to the patrons at Birchaven, then the students who wish to participate will carol and visit with them. Ms. Bowersox says the event, “just brightens their day because a lot of them don’t get visitors.”

FFA is not all work and no play though. Two major fun events take place during the holiday season. The first is an annual trip up to the Toledo Zoo to see The Lights At Christmas, which unfortunately got cancelled this year due to snow. As well, the December meeting for FFA will feature a potluck style meal and possible other fun, Christmas-related amenities. “The purpose behind FFA is not only about helping people, premier leadership, personal growth, and career success, but about bonding together and working as a team to accomplish a common goal, and hopefully building long-lasting friendships,” says Ms. Bowersox.  

For anyone interested in becoming a part of FFA in the future, there’s a simple way to. Enroll in an agricultural class and one automatically becomes a member of FFA, and are given the opportunity to partake in these events and more. By being involved in FFA, Ms. Bowersox says, students can “be a part of a team” while serving their communities. If currently involved with FFA though, make sure to keep in touch with Ms. Bowersox to know when the children the chapter adopted are scheduled to open their gifts.