By Meredith Oglesby, OCJ FFA reporter
The last line of the FFA mission states, living to serve, which is what FFA members and chapters across the state have been doing during the outbreak of COVID-19. Farmers, nurses, doctors, mailmen, restaurant workers, and anyone continuing to work to keep us safe, healthy and fed have been classified as essential workers. FFA members have risen to the challenge to stay strong and support their community members during these tough times. Many members themselves are working hard as essential workers.
Tess Ruehrumd from the Cardington FFA chapter has been volunteering at her local food pantry. She works to unload truck shipments, sort food and provide those in her community with the food they need. With the outbreak of COVID, Ruehrumd has taken on more responsibilities to keep the clients safe and the food available. She explained many of the volunteers and the current director of the pantry are older in age and at risk during the outbreak. Ruehrumd was asked by the director to co-run the pantry while she was away, so the pantry could stay open.
“Many food pantries around us have closed their doors because they couldn’t find enough young people to help,” Ruehrumd said. “I’m determined to not let that happen to ours. I have recruited many of my high school peers and even teachers to help out during this time to ensure no one in our community goes hungry.”
Members of the Plymouth FFA Chapter realized that in a time of crisis many of their community members may not have access or the financial ability to put food on the table. The chapter donated $300 to the Plymouth-Shiloh Food Pantry and volunteered to set up a safe pick up location in the center of town. The members were able to find a way to safely provide over 100 different local families with fresh food.
“If we don’t help them, then there is always the possibility no one will,” said Aliya Echelbarger, Plymouth FFA member.
Abigail Erdy, a Highland FFA member, has also found a way to help those in need. Erdy has recently signed up to volunteer with the American Red Cross as a communications and marketing intern.
“I’ve always had a passion for photography, digital media and marketing, so when I heard about the volunteer opportunity with American Red Cross, I knew I was being called to use my talents for the greater good and help those in need during this difficult time in our world,” Erdy said.
Students in the Ridgemont FFA chapter asked their advisor if they could use the 3-D printer from school to make face shields and ear protectors for first responders. The Paulding FFA created a hygiene closet for students who may not have access to hygiene items. And Erin Hedges, a Hillsboro FFA member is making farm themed masks for those working at the Highland District Hospital Oncology Department.
These are just a few of the ways Ohio FFA members and chapters have been working to embody the FFA mission by helping those in their communities and support the essential workers. Students have shared their appreciation for all the hard work the essential workers have dedicated the past several weeks. Find the kind messages FFA members from across the state have written to say “thank you” to essential workers.
“Coming from a household with two essential workers, one being a nurse, I’m starting to experience the chaotic organization amongst hospitals. I just want to say a big “thank you” to everyone helping. We are all in this together and I’m hoping soon, it will all come to an end.”
— Logan Phillips, Global Impact STEM Academy
“Thank you to all the essential workers! Without them, times would be even harder than they are right now. Also, a special shout out to my grandpa, Kevin Havens, for delivering mail in this hard time!”
— Alyson Petee, Madison Plains
“It means so much to me, my family and my community that individuals like you are working to make the world go round. Thank you for your hard work, dedication, and support through this hard time. With workers like you, the world is a better place.”
— Olivia Zimmerman, Clyde
“I’m thankful for our essential workers because they are working through tough times so we can get back to having fun times sooner than later. My mother is a nurse and I’ve seen first-hand what they are doing to help, so I am extremely thankful for all the medical fields risking their live for us. Thank you!”
— Ellie Struna, Pymatuning Valley
“I want to say thank you to all of the veterinarians working right now! They are always on the clock no matter the day of the week or what may be going on in the world!”
— Lindsay Robinson, Liberty Union
“Thank you to all the police officers, EMS and firefighters for constantly working to keep us safe during these difficult times. Thank you to all the nurses, doctors and health care workers for braving the front lines every day to contain the spread and treat those who are infected. And thank you to all the farmers across the country who dedicate their lives to feeding America 365 days a year. Thank you to all the essential workers!”
— Carrie Rhoades, Ansonia
“Thank you for all you do! I know these times are hard and you are risking you lives going to work for the benefit of the community. We thank you for supplying us with these goods and services that we need even through the fear of it all!”
— Emily Hardewig, Felicity-Franklin
“We appreciate your hard work, which is the backbone of our society and keeps us united during this time. We believe in you, applaud your sacrifice and will be forever grateful for keeping us safe and healthy during this crisis.”
— Jake Zajkowski, Anthoney Wayne
“Thank you for being selfless, dedicated and determined to help us get through this pandemic. You are truly American heroes.”
— Kennedy Short, Fayetteville
“Thank you to everyone who still goes to work every day to meet the needs of everyone in the world. Your work doesn’t go unnoticed and we all appreciate the work you do. You go above and beyond each day, thank you!”
— Camrie Meyers, Cardington
“I would like to thank all of the volunteers who are giving their time to help out their community.”
— Jacob Miles, Cory Rawson
“Our family would like to extend our gratitude to all those willing to sacrifice their own safety and well-being during this crisis. We wish you safety and health as you move ahead each day. We appreciated you. We thank you in our prayers and our hearts every day.”
— Melissa Cleveland, Mohawk
“I want to thank everyone who has went out of their way to help us all through this craziness and has helped us stay positive. It means a lot to all of us knowing that everyone is trying their hardest.”
— Reina Frame, Valley View MVCTC
“Thank you to all of our essential workers, who are working tirelessly to keep our world turning! I know it is scary not knowing what you may come in contact with as I am an essential worker myself, but I want each worker to know they are truly appreciated and loved by us all!”
— Taylor Bom, Cory Rawson
“To all the essential workers out there I would like to give you a huge thank you. You guys are risking your lives for us and we couldn’t be more grateful! So, thank you for caring so much about the people around you it does not go unnoticed!”
— Madison Bias, Black River
“I can’t express enough gratitude to all the hardworking firefighters and policemen that keep pushing during this crisis. Knowing you are still out protecting our communities and keeping everyone safe gives everyone peace of mind! Thanks, so much for your dedication!”
— Kimber Colahan, Westfall
“I would like to say thank you to all teachers and anyone in the education field, I’m not sure where I personally would be or what I would be doing right now if it wasn’t for them. Thank you!!”
— Sydney Keske, Crestview