As many of us are getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday by preparing the meal and cleaning the house, this is also a great time to reflect on how blessed we are. We were able to harvest what we planted, watch and protect new life during calving season, and now we are able to spend the holidays with our family. We truly have so much in this life to be thankful for. Many FFA chapters take this time to recognize how blessed they are by giving back to their community.
California FFA participates in Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday is a global day of philanthropy, which follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. For many it kicks off end of the year giving.
“Three years ago we started participating in Giving Tuesday with the focus of providing FFA jackets and a tie/scarf to FFA members who otherwise couldn’t afford one of their own, says Katie Otto, Director of Development for the California FFA Foundation. “I attend a number of events and we typically have FFA members assisting at World Ag Expo. Years ago we literally had members showing up with jackets way too big or too tight and scarfs made from floral wire.”
Through no fault of their own, the students simply don’t have the means to purchase a jacket. So they end up with ones that don’t fit, nor a scarf or tie.
Otta continued, “It became very apparent to me at the moment that some of our members needs are much more basic, than what we had been focusing on. The first year my goal was to provide a jacket to one member in all 334 chapters; we raised enough for 376 jackets. The second year (last year) we teamed up with Blue Diamond Growers (who could be a better partner to give the gift of blue!) and they provided matching funds that aided us in raising enough for 600 FFA members to receive their own jacket. Blue Diamond Growers is working with us again this year and the goal is 750 jackets. We will also hit our 1,000th jacket giveaway this year, which I’m very proud of.”
The basics of the campaign are “for every $75 donation, we provide an FFA member with a jacket and a tie or scarf.” It’s generally online-driven, given the one-day focus. Otto expresses joy from last year’s event and expects it to carry forward to this years. “Last year they had corporate partners who donated 20 jackets, a past State Officer called and donated a jacket for every year since he was in office — 67 years ago! It was an exciting day and we’re counting on this year to be just as exciting and impactful to members.” Check out more on their Facebook page.
In addition to Giving Tuesday, chapters from across the country volunteer in their community in any way possible. The Trinity FFA Chapter from Texas hosts an annual potluck-style Thanksgiving dinner for their community, with each student bringing their favorite dish.
The students of the Trinity FFA clean, cook, and serve at this event. The event was held Nov. 13 and served over 50 hungry attendees. The event is open to the public and the student lead organization strives to involve the community in any way possible.
In addition to the meal, Trinity FFA also does a service project. Mallory Stout, Trinty FFA President said, “Each year at the Trinity FFA Thanksgiving Dinner we try to do a service project. This year we teamed up with our local student council and our service project was Operation Gratitude. Operation Gratitude is where we assemble care packages for deployed solders, new recruits, injured soldiers, and veterans along with their care givers. The care packages also include cards of thanks and gratitude.”
Through acts of kindness and volunteering, we see communities coming together and making a difference. The students, advisers, and active community members reassure the rest of us that there is a bright future in agriculture.