NEW PARIS — With the aid of a grant from the Ohio FFA Foundation, the National Trail MVCTC FFA Chapter was able to help hundreds of families who may be in need during the holiday season with its Bags of Hope Program.
On Tuesday, Nov. 22, at St. Paul United Methodist Church in New Paris, nearly 30 members of the NTFFA program packed 500 bags with food, equaling 1,000 meals, to donate to local food banks.
They will also supply bags for other school districts.
“Our chapter received a grant this year to cover a large cost of the project with our chapter offsetting the rest of the expenses. The project has also expanded this year and we are packaging 500 bags with two recipes and ingredients for each casserole. Also included (is) some information on career success that FFA members have organized what they learned from our Career Success Series in class,” National Trail FFA Advisor Eric Kennel said.
The grant paid for approximately 75 percent of the items needed. The National Trail FFA paid for the remainder of the items.
This is the second year for the program. Last year, the group packaged 200 bags.
“We’re trying to impact the entire county, not just our own school district,” Kennel said.
Kennel said the students found satisfaction in being able to contribute to the community.
“In a roundabout way, they said it’s the most valuable thing they’ve done,” Kennel said.
Kennel said all of the 168 students in the Ag program assisted in some way.
“Every single student in the program had a piece of this project. They might not all be here today, but through the beginning to the end of it, they all had a piece of it,” Kennel said.
Kelly Dunn, who is a volunteer coordinator at the food bank in New Paris, is thankful for the students’ willingness to help the community.
“I think its’s amazing that students are involved in their community and they’re filling a need and learning to volunteer at a young age,” she said.
Jeff Ginter, Pastor of St. Paul United Methodist Church, said there are gaps in fighting poverty and the collaboration with the school and the food bank is a win-win for both.
“In fighting poverty, the difficult piece is the gaps. There’s gaps in doing everything with poverty and National Trail students fill one of those gaps — or we wouldn’t be able to do half as much as what we do,” Ginter said.
Ginter and Dunn said the families who benefit from the food bank are appreciative.
“The people we serve, the adults, they cherish their children and when they see children stepping up and doing something of this nature it motivates them,” Ginter said. “The other piece of it is from my time, I’ve only been in the area four years, is that it’s another way for National Trail, New Paris, Northern Preble County, to take a leadership role in the entire county. Which I think is huge. It motivates all of us. This kind of project gives people hope.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.