WALTON – Students in Lewis Cass High School’s Future Farmers of America program collected 2,818 items to donate to the Walton Church Food Pantry on Nov. 14. They collected those items in just one hour.
They had a head start, FFA advisor and agriculture teacher Heather Smith said. The students had a checklist of needed items, and many of them reached out to family and friends to begin prepping for the collection.
That head start amounted to 1,000 items.
Students in Lewis Cass High School’s Future Farmers of America program collected 1,818 items to donate to the Walton Christian Church food pantry, and they picked up 1,000 additional items that had already been prepared for them.
Altogether, it breaks down to 47 items a minute, said senior Lexi Freeman.
It’s impressive no matter how the numbers are divided.
The food drive, made into a scavenger hunt for the students, has been an FFA tradition for nearly two decades.
Smith recalls when she arrived at Lewis Cass 10 years ago they would collect about 1,000 items. The difference from now and then is amazing, she said.
“I know a lot of students will say this is one of their favorite activities that they do, not just because it’s fun but because they feel good when they are done because they are helping other people out,” said Mike Appleton, an agricultural teacher and FFA advisor.
The 38 members of the Lewis Cass FFA broke up into groups to collect items. Maggie Taylor, a junior, said many of students get competitive, wanting to collect the most. Some even buy extra items to bulk up their collection numbers.
Since the students knew the event was coming, they began prepping early, and their families and friends were loaded up with items to donate when they came calling Nov. 14.
“It’s really cool to see how the community gets involved and helps,” Taylor said.
“And some of the community members, once they donate to you they are really adamant that they want your team to win,” said junior Kinsey Mennen. “It’s been around for so long they kind of get into it with us.”
On Nov. 16, they loaded the items on two Lewis Cass mini buses and delivered the food to Walton Christian Church, 103 Bishop St., where they helped unload and stock the pantry.
Connor Shedron, who attends the church, was in charge of coordinating the delivery.
“They said we supplied them for all the winter months,” said Lexi Freeman, a senior.
Cathy McQuiston, a volunteer at the food pantry, called the donations “a blessing.”
“The shelves were bare after the last distribution day and now the shelves are full again, “ McQuiston said. “Not only do they collect food, but also cleaning supplies, paper products and personal hygiene products. The students’ support year after year provides for many people in our community. They are so appreciated.”
Taylor said that helping the community is in the FFA mission statement.
The group does many activities within Walton and Cass County during the year, including participating in the Cass County Fair and hosting a banquet and pork chop dinner, which is approaching in February, Mennen said. The pork chop dinner will take place during National FFA week, which runs from Feb. 18-25, 2023.