Ninth District congressman visits FCA’s community building



During a recent visit to Washington, D.C., Abby Stuckwisch met an intern working for Indiana Ninth District Congressman Trey Hollingsworth.

Even though she wasn’t able to meet the Republican who represents 13 counties in south central and southeastern Indiana, she had that opportunity Monday morning.

Hollingsworth said he read a Tribune article about the Brownstown Central High School Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ Shed for You community building and wanted to meet the students and advisers behind making it happen.

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"To think that our idea had gone up that many ranks to get to the point where he knew about it and a little group in Brownstown, Indiana, a really small town in Indiana, it’s really cool to see that," said Stuckwisch, a junior at the school and member of FCA.

Senior Halle Hehman said Hollingsworth’s visit was a big deal.

"He just really said that it takes a lot, so he’s proud of us and to keep up the good work," she said. "We touch people through just small things, but it seems like we’re also getting out to bigger ideas, and hopefully, we can help even more."

His stop at the community building followed visits to Jackson County REMC and the Judge Robert Brown Jackson County Juvenile Home in Brownstown, and he planned to visit several other Jackson County businesses later in the day.

"It’s a great story of Hoosiers helping Hoosiers, of even recognizing that kids in high school can come together, come up with a great idea and find a way to improve their community to make a difference in people’s lives," he said of the community building.

"I think that’s what’s so exciting about this country is that you can have a great idea and come up with a way to really help somebody and you can do it, and you can see it’s right here in person in this place helping this community today," he said.

Anyone of any age can make a big difference in their community, Hollingsworth said.

"We’re just excited that they’re such a great example of helping their community, of leadership, partnering with local businesses, with local nonprofits, with local churches in order to make a difference in Hoosier lives," he said. "That’s what public policy should be about. It’s what all of us should be about."

In FCA’s inaugural year, 2017, students began raising money to build a wooden structure that would give the community a chance to donate food and personal hygiene items for those in need to stop by and pick up.

In March 2018, FCA advisers Jennifer Shade and Barry Hall and members Hehman and Emily Koch attended a Brownstown Town Council meeting to share information about FCA and the community building. Hall said it would have an 8-foot-by-8-foot floor plan with a pitched roof, a door and a 3-foot porch.

FCA received the council’s permission to place it in the town parking lot on West Walnut Street, which is in a safe, high-traffic area that’s visible and accessible.

The building was completed in June, placed in the parking lot and had signage put on the front and sides. The door does not have a lock on it, so people can drop off donations or select items they need at any time, no questions asked.

Nonperishable food items are accepted, including canned vegetables, fruit and soups, boxed macaroni and cheese and other meals and peanut butter. Shade said she wasn’t sure about items like bread and potatoes staying OK in the building, but when those have been donated, they go fast.

"We encourage people, even if they have a garden, bring in fresh vegetables and leave them out here on the porch," she said. "Somebody will take them from here and benefit from them. Anything you’re not using, somebody else might be able to use, so bring it."

Personal hygiene items, including body soap, hand soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes and feminine products; paper products, such as tissues and toilet paper; and laundry soap also are accepted.

"Toilet paper, laundry soap and hygiene items, those go so quickly, we can’t hardly keep that stuff stocked in the building," Shade said.

There also are inspirational books in baskets on one of the shelves for people to take. Those types of books may be donated, too.

Clothing and fabric items are not accepted.

Sophomore Reagan Nuss created a binder that’s inside the shed to give people a chance to write down household items they are willing to donate or that they need. Shade said someone recently wrote that they needed diapers and baby formula, so she bought that, called the person and took the items to them.

A different FCA member is in charge of stopping by the building every day, whether it’s themselves, fellow FCA members or family members.

So far, the community response has been great. One woman dropped off baggies containing shampoo, toothpaste and other toiletries. Others have dropped off food.

"I think we were all scared because we didn’t know if people were going to get what was trying to happen and we didn’t know people were going to donate, but now that we’ve come in a couple times and we’ve seen donations laying on the ground, it makes us feel a lot better," senior Riley Nuss said. "And also, it makes us feel better knowing that we are helping people in the community."

Monetary donations also are accepted so FCA members can shop for items to fill the shelves. Brownstown Electric Supply Co. recently conducted a fish fry and donated the $1,700 in proceeds to FCA for the community building.

"It doesn’t have to be a huge donation. You don’t have to go buy $100 worth of all of your groceries," Riley Nuss said. "Just buy five extra cans or three extra cans or something, and then just bring it in. Any little thing helps. If you have three donations from 10 people, that’s 30 cans."

Shade said members have contacted food banks and local businesses about making food donations.

As he made his way around Jackson County on Monday, Hollingsworth told the FCA members he would mention what they are doing in hopes that people would be encouraged to donate.

"You guys keep up the great work," he said before leaving the community building and heading to Seymour.

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The Shed for You community building is open 24/7 in the parking lot along West Walnut Street in Brownstown.

Donations of nonperishable food, personal hygiene items and other basic needs may be dropped off at any time, and those who need those items may stop by to get them at any time, no questions asked. Clothing and fabric items are not accepted.

Monetary donations may be mailed to Brownstown Central Christian Athletes, P.O. Box 159, Brownstown, IN 47220.

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"We’re just excited that they’re such a great example of helping their community, of leadership, partnering with local businesses, with local nonprofits, with local churches in order to make a difference in Hoosier lives. That’s what public policy should be about. It’s what all of us should be about."

Indiana Ninth District Congressman Trey Hollingsworth on Brownstown Central High School Fellowship of Christian Athletes members creating the Shed for You community building


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