Crothersville FFA members and their volunteer helpers had a wide variety of stories to tell Saturday after completing their 28th annual toy and food drive.

One group hoping to spread a little Christmas joy wasn’t sure what to expect based on the doormat of one recipient.

The doormat’s warning, “Come back with a warrant,” didn’t deter the group, however, and the family accepted the boxes of food and a bag of toys from their benefactors.

Another recipient said she was in the bathroom and it would be several minutes. When she made it to the door to greet the FFA members, she joked with them about how that would be a story they could tell.

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A third group talked about their visit with a woman who recently had chemotherapy. She was asleep when they arrived, but after waking up, gladly accepted a fruit basket and card.

“It’s always different; some people are really emotional, some are kind of defensive,” said Madison Isenhower, a past president of the FFA chapter and now a student at Ivy Tech Community College. “Sometimes you just see (situations) that make you feel like crying.”

“It gives you such a good feeling,” senior FFA officer Brittany Ross said of helping others. “Seeing their faces is priceless and seeing the children whose day you’ve changed, about makes you cry.”

The group delivered more than eight tons of food and toys to 96 families in Vernon Township.

“Some people do things like this for publicity,” Isenhower said. “We do it to show that even though we’re a small community, we can help people no matter what.

“It showed me what I have to be thankful for,” Isenhower added. “It showed that we love our little town.”

The group raised $4,500 through various fundraisers, including their annual craft show, and donations to purchase the food and toys. Students collected nearly a full ton more in food than last year.

Linda Begley, FFA adviser, said the organization also received donations from Premier Ag Co-Op, Land O’Lakes and Walmart.

She emphasized that the group is student run and has prospered this year under the leadership of president Deven Lemen.

“He just has such a great mind for details,” Begley said of why the event ran so smoothly Saturday.

Begley said the program helps not only the community, but the students as well, challenging them to meet their goal.

“It gives them a purpose,” she said. “This might be their only community service project, and today they have a purpose with it; yesterday they had a purpose.”

Begley said the demands on students, including sports, academics and jobs, are greater than perhaps ever before, but the 50-plus students in FFA have “made the time” for it.

Besides the FFA members and their families, the Crothersville-Vernon Township Volunteer Fire Department also assisted Saturday with transportation and delivery.

“We have volunteers who have been here every year since the start,” Begley said. “… and it’s a good training exercise for the fire department to learn where everything is and with finding addresses quickly.”

The event also helps introduce FFA members to the community, especially the fire department and introduce the community to FFA members, Begley added.

“Some of these young kids that we deliver to may end up being future FFA members,” said Begley.

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Aaron Piper is a photographer and reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at apiper@tribtown.com or 812-523-7057.