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FFA food drive breaks record with 33,000 pounds

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 December 2016 at 11:48 am

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Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Allison Graham, left, Lindsay Mann and other members of the Albion FFA unload a tractor-trailer truck from Panek Farms this morning that was stacked with 33,000 pounds of produce donated from local farmers.

“This is my favorite event in the year,” said Graham, a junior in high school. “We’re helping a lot of families.”

When the truck pulled into the parking lot at Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, many agency staff and volunteers, as well as representatives from food pantries, started clapping and cheering for the FFA.

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Emilie Barleben (center), president of the FFA, and Rylie Lear, and Garrett Derisley move 50-pound bags of cabbage off the truck.

The 33,000 pounds for the food drive broke last year’s record of 30,656. The FFA has been doing the food drive since 2010, when it collected 3,000 pounds the first year. That jumped to 9,000 pounds in 2011, 17,000 the following year and 19,000 in December 2013. The FFA reached 27,000 pounds in 2014 and then topped 30,000 for the first time last year.

Local farmers topped last year’s effort despite a drought this year that diminished the crop for many local growers.

Barry Flansburg, the FFA Alumni president, wasn’t surprised the farming community stepped up again for the food drive despite a tough year.

“It’s a credit to the ag community and how generous they are,” Flansburg said. “Everybody sets aside food each year for this whether it’s a good year or a bad year.”

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Jared Hollinger hands a heavy box to Clara Stilwell as the students worked to unload the truck in the bitter cold. Students sent out letters to local farmers, and then organized the ag shop at the school this week following the citrus sale to make room for all of the food.

The FFA students were at the school at 7 this morning to load the truck.

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Annette Finch, emergency services coordinator for Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, thanks the students for their work on the food drive. She is joined by Barry Flansburg, president of the Albion FFA Alumni.

Finch said the food would go to about 200 families in Albion, 160 in Holley and other food pantries around the county.

“You will help a lot of families in Orleans County,” Finch told the FFA students. “You don’t know what it means to the people and to me.”

Finch was emotional in thanking the students and farmers for the food drive.

“Every year she cries,” said Allison Graham, one of the FFA students.

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Russ Peters, pastor of the Alabama Full Gospel Church, carries a bag of potatoes. He said the church is working on putting together Christmas baskets for 33 families. The food from the FFA food drive would also help people in the church and community “who find themselves in need this time of year.”

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Rev. William Washington, pastor of the Royal Church of God in Christ in Carlton, carries potatoes for the church’s food pantry.

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Adam Krenning, FFA advisor, hands a crate of food to a volunteer at Community Action this morning.

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The FFA students gather for a group picture with a thank you message for the farmers that donated to the drive.

The following donated:

Orleans County Farm Bureau – $1,500 for purchase of hams; Triple G Farms – potatoes; Root Brothers – cabbage; Nesbitt Farms – apples; Kreher’s – 900 dozen eggs; Kludt Brothers – squash; Martin Farms – squash; Calls Farms – potatoes; Jeff Partyka – squash; CY Farms – onions and cabbage; Starowitz; Torrey Farms – potatoes cabbage and onions; Castanzia Bakery – bread; Orchard Dale Fruit Farm – apples; Navarra’s – Bean Crates; Save-A-Lot and Tops – Banana boxes; Paneks – Canned Beans and Corn (use of truck); Town of Oakfield – use of wagon.

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