By Meredith Oglesby, OCJ FFA reporter
The FFA sets students up for success through “learning to do, doing to learn, earning to live and living to serve” — that is exactly what Ohio FFA members are doing as they prepare for the holiday season. Chapters across the state engage in a number of service projects to give back to their local communities.
The Shelby FFA chapter in Richland County donates fruit from their chapter’s annual fruit sale to the Shelby Help Line each year. The goal of this project is to provide the local community access to fresh food. This project started in 2012 when the chapter received a donation of $1,000 worth of fruit from an anonymous supporter.
“It’s important to give back to the community because they support us as much as we support them,” said Shelby Evans, a Shelby FFA chapter reporter.
Evans said this service project aligns with the FFA motto as the chapter helps those in need and promotes healthy lifestyles. Shelby FFA members find joy in knowing families in Richland County have fresh food on their tables during the holiday season.
“When I donate fruit to the Shelby Help Line, I feel good knowing I am impacting people and making a positive difference in their lives,” Evans said. “The best part is seeing their faces light up as they realize what we did to help.”
The Mowrystown FFA chapter in Highland County identified a need for a service event to provide resources for community members in need. For this reason, the annual Day of Giving event was created.
Now in its fourth consecutive year, the FFA chapter plans the Day of Giving event at Whiteoak High School. Through donations and money raised by the chapter throughout the year they are able to fund an array of projects benefitting members of the community. Each year students and staff look forward to the day of service on the last day of school before winter break.
This event encourages all students to pitch in, make a difference and serve the community. A range of items are made and packaged to give to local community organizations and families.
“Blankets are tied, boxes of are packed, Christmas cards are constructed, diaper cakes for new mothers are made, dog treats are baked, wash cloth bears for babies are assembled and even more,” said Chandra Hill, Mowrystown chapter reporter. “We help groups of people ranging from our United States troops, to Children’s Hospital, pregnancy centers, animal shelters, and even our own students.”
Hill remembers participating in the first Day of Giving event as a seventh grader who wasn’t quite old enough to be a member of the Mowrystown FFA chapter yet.
“I didn’t quite understand what would happen,” Hill said. “When the day arrived, though, everyone started working and I knew I liked the idea. I was writing messages like ‘happy holidays!’ on the outside of care packages that were being prepared for soldiers. This is when I realized we are all part of something bigger than ourselves.”
Now, as a chapter officer, Hill holds an important role in ensuring a successful event in 2019. The dedication of the planning committee, which includes FFA members, school staff and donors, allows the event to flourish.
Mowrystown FFA invests in this service project, “because it is our job as FFA members to serve others,” Hill said. This project has a positive impact on the students within the school as well as the people in their local community.
“We serve our community not because we are forced, but because we feel the need
as leaders in our community,” Hill said. “If we don’t help, who will? We help our community, we grow our community and we serve our community because that is what being an FFA member entails. By holding Day of Giving, we benefit and serve something bigger than ourselves.”