For FFA members, there's always so much to do to get ready for this activity. Whether it's making posters or dropping off boxes, talking to classes or finding club sponsors, there is always a job for everyone. Lots of planning is involved in the weeks before the program that our advisors, Gary Burdine, Neal Floyd, and Alissa Smith coordinate every year to help everything run smoothly.
West and East Jessamine high schools collected food, and clubs from each school provided the potatoes, bread, baby food, turkeys, and cookbooks for each family. The need was much greater this year, so we also enlisted the help of Nicholasville and Rosenwald-Dunbar elementary schools, who collected an astounding combined 1,962 pounds of food. Papa Johns donated a pizza party to the winning classes from both of those schools. Altogether, a total of 12,491 pounds of food was collected. The FFA worked with Carolyn Cobb from Community Action, without whom none of this would be possible. The Thanksgiving program is truly a combined community effort.
Once the food was collected at each school, the behind-the-scenes work began. It's the same hustle-and-bustle, exciting feeling you get at Christmas, only its better because you know that what you're doing is really going to make a difference. FFA members scattered around the gym floor, surrounded by boxes of food, totals counted and then shouted out to our surprisingly calm secretary, Karolyn Tye, who filled her paper with numbers that she would later tally up for the final total. As boxes were counted, another crew loaded and transported them to the Ag. Shop, where they would be sorted into different categories by more members. This is where the frenzied assembly line takes place, consisting of lots of shouting and cans of green beans and boxes of macaroni and cheese sailing through the air, to their designated person, only to later be apart of another assembly line where they would be put into boxes for each family.
When it came time for delivery, teams of FFA members were given an envelope with addresses of families, and with directions from our advisors and help from other members, we loaded up our trucks and cars and set off. After some wrong turns and lots of fellowship with our fellow members, we got to meet the people that we were helping. The tears of joy, hugs of gratitude, and heartfelt smiles, make all the work worthwhile. The people we met and the memories we made will be with us forever. After a long day, we realize that we are the ones that truly received the blessing. Mrs. Smith, one of my FFA Advisors, told me that 'everyone needs a little help sometimes,' and it really is true. People that you would never expect can need assistance too; despite how nice their house or car, you never know what people are going through inside.
Bills, illnesses, loss of jobs; I've heard all kinds of stories, and it has made me realize even more why it's so important to help: it could very well be you and your family that someone else will be helping next year. The experience really makes you thankful for what you do have. It's an awesome feeling to sit down at your own Thanksgiving dinner, and say a little prayer for the people that you helped, knowing that, because of our efforts, someone else can sit down to a hot meal too. This is what Thanksgiving is all about.
I am very proud to say that the program was a success; we had enough food for each family, and enough left over to help replenish the food bank. On behalf of the FFA, I just want to express our gratitude to our community for helping to make this possible yet another year. To each and every person who contributed, whether with one can of corn or 1,000 pounds of potatoes, thank you. Because of your help, families throughout the county were blessed with a real Thanksgiving dinner. Working together, we really did make a difference. Thanks to everyone who took part and joined us in upholding the most important part of our motto: Living to serve. We look forward to working with everyone again next year.