In the wake of the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, many Americans are looking for ways to help support those servicemen and women who are supporting us overseas.
That's why, when Mariah Dale-Anderson, Special Services Manager for the Illinois Farm Bureau's Youth Education in Agriculture, saw the opportunity to help fill a need for U.S. soldiers, she jumped at the chance.
"We had been following the Illinois National Guard's 1-14th Agribusiness Development Team on Facebook for a while when they posted a request for magazines to help them stay connected with events at home," Dale-Anderson says. "We decided we could help them with their request by making it a challenge for FFA chapters."
Dale-Anderson put the word out on the IFB's YEA Facebook page, asking Illinois FFA chapters to bring any magazines they could collect - new or used - to the IFB's tent at this year's Farm Progress Show, held Aug. 29 to Sept. 1 in Decatur. The chapter that collected and donated the most magazines would win a new iPad for their chapter.
"We initially thought we would have a few thousands magazines donated, but 26,457 magazines later, we were just blown away by the FFA members' support," Dale-Anderson adds. "The magazine drive exceeded our expectations - we were shocked and overwhelmed by the support the magazine drive received."
In fact, FFA chapters across the state were engaged with the magazine drive almost immediately, Dale-Anderson says. As soon as the drive was posted to the IFB's YEA Facebook page, Illinois agriculture teachers posted it to their own Facebook pages, building excitement up until the first day of the Farm Progress Show.
"FFA chapters brought magazines in by the box load, determined to participate," Dale-Anderson notes. "Some chapters gave a few hundred magazines, knowing they weren't going to win, but donated because they wanted to be a part of it and give back to the troops."
Jeff Landers, Mendota FFA chapter advisor and agriculture teacher, says giving back to the troops was the reason his students wanted to participate in the magazine drive, too.
"The students just thought it was a really worthwhile project," Landers explains. "It was a good activity to start the year with and the students felt the need to give those soldiers some comforts from home."Of course, the possibility of winning an iPad for the chapter wasn't bad, either. Landers gave his students the goal of collecting 1,000 magazines and said his students stepped up to the plate, visiting doctors' officers and family friends and spending the next several evening spreading the word. Before long, the Mendota FFA chapter had collected 4,965 magazines - enough to bring the iPad home to their chapter and keep the 1-14th in reading material for a long time.