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FFA blue jeans day brings in green for Manna House
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Grace Diederich places cans into boxes while Marissa Powell unloads bags of food from the car. - photo by Photo by Paul Floeckher

A jeans day benefit at South Effingham High School drew more than a casual response.

The school’s FFA chapter sponsored a canned food drive and fundraiser to help hungry families in Effingham. The drive collected 955 pounds of food and $753 in monetary donations for Manna House Ministries’ food pantry.

“That’s what we’re about,” said FFA vice president Marissa Powell. “We’re not doing it for ourselves; we’re doing it for other people. We like knowing that we’re helping others.”

The canned food drive is an annual tradition for the South Effingham chapter, held on the Friday of FFA Week. For a donation of at least $2 or two cans of food, students and teachers could wear jeans to school.

“Everybody participated — the whole school,” said FFA president Morgan Rushing. “It makes us happy that everybody is willing to donate.”

Manna House relies on a stream of donations to help Effingham families in need. The food pantry has been averaging 400-600 families served per month, according to director Lisa Bush.

“It always amazes me to receive donations from any group, especially when young people are involved,” Bush said. “I am reminded there are still people out there that care about the needy and fighting hunger in our community.”

She wasn’t the only one impressed by the South Effingham FFA’s efforts. So was Tyler Outen, who is in his first year at SEHS as an agriscience teacher and the FFA advisor.

“It’s really cool seeing them come together to do things like this,” Outen said. “These are some special kids we have.”

After collecting the food, FFA members organized and bagged the more than 800 cans. Outen, Rushing, Powell and club reporter Grace Diederich delivered the donations to Manna House.

While the FFA students felt good about helping people in the community, Rushing would’ve been happy to add one more step to the process.

“I wish we were the ones who actually went to the people themselves, like to serve them a nice dinner,” she said. “That would be a great honor to do.”