Fire department contributes toys to annual FFA effort

The Crothersville-Vernon Township Volunteer Fire Department has been involved with the Crothersville FFA Toy and Food Drive since the beginning.

For the 34th edition of the program that benefits Vernon Township residents at Christmastime, firefighters came up with a new way to help with the effort.

They still helped deliver boxes of toys and food on Saturday, but many of those toys were purchased through the support of the community.

The inaugural Short Stack for a Tall Cause pancake fundraiser brought in enough money to add 82 different toys and books to help make kids have a special Christmas.

On Wednesday night, two firefighters, the FFA chapter’s president and another FFA member went shopping at Ollie’s in Seymour and spent nearly $370 on 77 toys and books. Those were purchased with money from the fundraiser, and the rest of the items were donated at the event.

After the shopping trip, Public Information Officer Mikey Blair, Deputy Chief of Administration Chris Seal, Crothersville FFA President Brayden Crater and FFA member Lucy Braun wrapped the gifts so they could be added to the boxes for delivery day Saturday.

“We had some members that helped out last year notice that the toys were kind of lacking,” Blair said. “Lots of people donate food, and we thought, ‘We just need more toys,’ so we were like, ‘Hey, we’ll just do a 100% complete donation.’”

Seal, who also is co-owner of J and G Garage Doors of Seymour, stepped up and sponsored the fundraising event, which helped purchase the food.

“We donate to the FFA, as well. It’s just another way to help out and allow them to go spend more money to get more kids toys,” he said.

At the breakfast, 70 meals were sold.

“For the first time, I think it was good. It went over really well,” Seal said. “Of course, the more often you do stuff, the better it’s going to get.”

Blair said they chose to do the fundraiser the day after Black Friday in hopes people would buy toys that day and bring them to the event. If they did that, they received a free breakfast. Otherwise, people paid $5 for a meal.

He also was happy with the turnout of the event.

“It’s just so the kids could have a Christmas,” Blair said. “That’s the thing. It is families in need. They are worried about food and the kids are taken care of, but it’s always fun to have something to unwrap on Christmas.”

The firefighters were glad to have a couple of FFA members join them on the shopping trip and help with wrapping. For Crater, it was twofold, as he’s a cadet with the fire department.

“When FFA stuff is going on, he’s with that, and then he comes down and contributes his time as a cadet for the fire department. It gets the kids at school more involved,” Blair said.

Crater, a junior at Crothersville High School, said he has been in FFA since sixth grade, but he was helping with toy and food drive delivery before that.

He appreciated the fire department coming up with the fundraiser.

“Toys are one thing I always feel like kind of get thrown to the back because everybody is talking about the food,” Crater said. “A lot of times, it makes or breaks a kid’s Christmas, so I appreciate people bringing toys in.”