Sleepy Eye FFA members: Living to Serve this holiday season

Submitted

Some know this line, Living to Serve, as the last in the FFA Motto. For Sleepy Eye FFA members, service may be one of the first words they think of when they think of what FFA is all about. This summer, the Sleepy Eye FFA Chapter applied for a National FFA Year Long Living to Serve Grant for $3,000 in order to help with the Trinity Backpack program, which includes Food Bags each week and Holiday Gift Boxes. With the generosity of the National FFA, CoBank, Tractor Supply Company, CSX, Chevrolet, and Cargill, the Living to Serve Grant became a reality for the Sleepy Eye FFA.

(Top) FFA members and officers helped pack Holiday Boxes, for the Trinity Backpack Program for families in need, at Mark Thomas Company, from left: Brennen Meyer, Leisha Martinez, Maddi Helget, McKenna Dockter, Gracie Sellner, Miah Brown, Priscilla Martinez, Carmen Lendt, Morgan Hoffmann and Brooke Arneson. Bottom left:  FFA members tied 16 blankets and donated them in the community. Pictured is Nayzeth Luna, one of 15 members who helped with this project. Bottom right: Leisha Martinez, Chapter Historian helped with the packing of the Holiday Boxes that are coming soon to the families!

The Backpack program is where students at risk for hunger receive bags of food for the weekend with a family meal — main dishes, fruit, vegetables, and a snack. The FFA grant money is being used to help with several extensions of the Backpack Food Program including: birthday boxes for each elementary participant, fruit and snacks in each food bag, a personal care item pantry for grades 5-8, personal care items for the Holiday Boxes, and a food pantry for grades 7-8.

The Holiday Boxes include eight meals and some extra snacks and goodies for the long holiday break, as well as a gift certificate for meat and produce at the local grocery store.

Ten FFA members were also able to pack meals for the Holiday Boxes that will go to 55 children’s families in need. Advisor Mrs. Hoffmann, and Morgan Hoffmann, the Chapter President, shopped for the personal care items that went into the holiday boxes for the families. These items included toothbrushes, toothpaste, kids shampoo, and kids body wash. New this year, a special family and child gift were added.

The FFA is thrilled to be a part of this amazing project that Trinity church conducts, along with numerous community partners, providing food to students all school year long. This year the Sleepy Eye Medical Center collected food for eight of the boxes. The money for the rest of the food boxes came through donations from Trinity members.

The FFA Chapter also purchased fleece to make tie blankets for kids and community members in need this holiday season. The blankets were donated to the ambulance, hospital, and students at our school.  FFA members participated in tying the blankets.

Happy Holiday cards have been made by the members and will be given to all residents at the local nursing homes and Countryside, along with ornaments the FFA chapter purchased. The chapter is also planning to do a “People Parade” outside these locations before the Christmas holiday.

Members also wrote a special note to Veterans and sent cards to the VA Hospital in Minneapolis as another way to serve this year.

Receiving the Living to Serve grant and helping with these projects was a great way for FFA members to contribute to the community and build relationships while doing so. One of the FFA members favorite things to do is participate in service projects. We are always trying to find ways to help out in the community and spread a little holiday cheer!