Standing in a hallway at Crothersville Junior-Senior High School on Saturday, I heard someone say, “Zach, do you want to go with us?”
It was Madison Isenhower, a 2016 graduate who was heavily involved in the FFA chapter. Even though she no longer attends the school, she still finds time around Christmas to help with the Crothersville FFA Toy and Food Drive, now in its 29th year.
She and another former FFA member, Deven Lemen, had packed her vehicle with boxes full of nonperishable food items, a laundry basket with a variety of items, a bag of toys, a gallon of milk and a dozen eggs.
With them in the front seats and me in the back, we headed to a home in town to deliver all of the stuff. After Madison knocked on the door three times, no one answered, so we left the items on the front porch. Since it was raining outside, we made sure to cover the tops of the boxes so the food wouldn’t get wet.
Then we headed back to the school. I didn’t want to stop there, so I asked Charlie Densford with the Crothersville-Vernon Township Volunteer Fire Department to hand me an envelope with the address to a home to make my own delivery.
I looked at the number on the envelope and walked into a classroom with boxes covering the floor. Once I found the three boxes with that number on the outside, I loaded them into my vehicle and headed to the home.
With one box in hand, I knocked on the door a couple of times. Again, there was no answer, so I placed that box on the front porch along with two other boxes of food, a basket full of items, milk and eggs.
There was no way I was going to stop there. I was having too much fun, so I asked Charlie to give me another envelope.
This time, when I knocked on the door, a man answered. I told him I was helping deliver items, and he let me put the first box on the living room floor. I made a few more trips to get the rest of the delivery.
After all of it was in his home, I asked him if the food would last him a while. He said, “Oh yeah. It sure will.” He said he was familiar with the annual drive and expressed his appreciation. I told him, “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,” and he responded, “God bless you, man. Take care, brother.”
As I walked off of the porch and headed back to my car, I realized the true feeling of helping someone. I was just one of the many volunteers who felt that Saturday.
As a reporter, though, I’m usually just at events long enough to get the interviews and photos I need to put a story together. I had never gotten to actually do the work before, so this was a special opportunity for me.
Even though it was cold outside with a mix of rain and snow, I was sweating and starting to feel a little tired. I realized how much work this annual effort truly takes. I had a newfound appreciation for everyone who volunteers their time to help out.
Back at the school, I decided to make one more delivery, and I asked a couple of FFA members to help me. Senior Kalynda Hoevener and junior Cassie Defibaugh volunteered. We picked the boxes and items we needed to deliver and headed to the west side of town.
Those people weren’t home, either, so we left the items near their front step. As I drove back to the school, I thanked Kalynda and Cassie for helping me.
When I walked into the school a final time, I decided I might as well make one final delivery. Go big or go home, right?
Well, Charlie made sure that was the case. This time, the items were going to a large family. There were nine boxes, a bag of toys, a laundry basket of items, a box of bottled drinks, milk, eggs and a bag of potatoes. I wasn’t sure if it would all fit into my vehicle, but it did.
The only room left was for me to sit in the driver’s seat and one person to sit in the passenger seat. Freshman Kate Frazier volunteered to go along with me.
It was just a short drive from the school. Again, the family wasn’t home, so we left all of the items on their front porch.
Kate told me this was her first time helping with the toy and food drive delivery and that she remembers her family receiving items when she was younger. She was amazed what all it takes to pull off the annual drive, and like me, she had a great appreciation for everyone who chips in to help.
Finally, I determined I was done. My shoes and clothes were a little wet. My hands ached a little, so I wasn’t sure if I would be able to type this column and my story about the toy and food drive. My body may feel a little weak later from carrying the heavy boxes because it has been a while since I’ve had that much of a workout.
In the end, though, my heart was full. I saw the impact that all of the volunteers made for others in their community, and Christmas was brighter for 96 families in Vernon Township.
I now know firsthand how it feels to help with this effort. Whether it’s the same project or another one, I would encourage you to help out. You are making a difference, and who doesn’t want to experience that feeling?
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The Tribune. He may be reached at 812-523-7080 or [email protected].