The River Valley FFA Chapter is #AgProud and strives to share agricultural commodities with those who might otherwise have to go without each year around the holidays. The River Valley FFA Chapter from Yuba City, Calif., works each year to make the holidays brighter for nearly a dozen families. Although located in a highly-populated area, the FFA Group considers itself rural due to its large agricultural presence known for its production of rice, peaches and prunes.
The 2017-2018 River Valley FFA officer team said they started two different community service projects several years ago to give back to their local community. They start by contacting the local elementary schools and asking for names of families who need a little extra help during the holidays.
First, they provide a Thanksgiving meal, and last year provided a full-blown meal to six families the Monday of Thanksgiving week. Students from the various agriculture classes donated non-perishable items like canned vegetables, instant potatoes, gravy mixes, stuffing and cranberry sauces. The chapter uses money from fundraising efforts to provide the turkey, pies, rolls and apple cider.
“We always give back during the holidays; it’s just what we do,” said Chapter President Marina Huff. “It is important because we are able to help others that can’t help themselves.”
Treasurer Amelia Mann said it feels good to help others and knows whatever help they offer is appreciated.
“We have learned you can’t help everyone, but it is nice to help whoever we can with the means that we have. Some of the families had kids in their car, and the look on their face when we gave them the food was priceless,” Amelia said.
In addition to providing six Thanksgiving meals, River Valley FFA also brightens six additional families’ Christmas with the gift of decorated Christmas trees. Baker Christmas Trees donates the trees, and students once again come forward to donate the lights and ornaments. The chapter hosts a large Christmas party after school where the students and advisors come together to decorate the trees. Then, the officers deliver the trees to their new owners.
As much as these community service projects impact those in need, Reporter Hannah Graham said giving back has made her feel better and brought their chapter closer.
“I have learned that giving to others impacts my life and makes me feel like a better person,” Hannah said. “The best memories from these projects are the looks on the faces of the families and my chapter officers becoming more of a family.”
Getting others involved is key to a successful community service project, according to the officer team. The Bakers’ daughter is a past member of the FFA, and they continue to donate trees.
Vice president Gabe Bruce hopes the recipients understand that the gifts they are given – food and trees – are a product of agriculture and how agriculture effects everyone.
“I do hope that more people think of and appreciate how important ag is,” Gabe said. “Take what you do to heart. When you give back to the community, don’t boast about it, but be modest and happy with what you’ve done.”
Fiber. Food. Friendships. Many people take these basic agricultural products for granted. But for those who might not be able to provide for their family around the holidays, it takes some of today’s youth to remind them they are cared for, and you’re never too young to make a difference. River Valley FFA, you make Sure Champ, #AgProud!