Three Pennsylvania FFA members felt a range of emotions, from excited and overwhelmed, to extremely proud, to amazed and indescribable after they each completed a selfless act of kindness, embracing the FFA spirit of giving.
Cody Harpster, Madison Campbell and Chelsea Bilyeau, all members of the State College FFA chapter, decided to generously donate the proceeds of their livestock auction sales to different charities they had a connection to.
“I donated the proceeds from my market hog to the PSU-Hershey Cancer Research Center,” says Cody, who was the first of the three to sell. A friend of his had beaten a rare form of cancer, and Cody wanted to donate money on her behalf. The day of the sale, Cody says it just clicked. “The pigs were given to me, so what better way to pass it forward?” he says. “About an hour before the sale, I turned in my note announcing that all proceeds would be donated.”
Chelsea donated her market lamb proceeds to the Mount Nittany Cancer Department after her uncle passed away from the disease. Madison gave the money from her market hog to the Janet Weis Children’s Miracle Network in Danville, Pa., after suffering herself through epilepsy and a brain tumor.
“This organization did a lot for me,” Madison says. “I wanted to give back to the people who helped me through a rough part of my life. I knew there were other kids out there like me who deserved this more than I did.”
Paul Heasley, advisor for the chapter, says the members’ donations were a fabulous act truly directed from within. “Our chapter instills the sense of giving and community, and this was such a great example of that,” Heasley says. “It encourages others to find some type of void in the community and fill it – it doesn’t necessarily have to be money.”
He adds that the members were surprised by the overwhelming positive reaction from the community because of their donations. “It’s one of those things that gets people thinking,” he says. “They didn’t realize they could help and give back in this way.”
All three students encourage other FFA members to do the same with their livestock auction proceeds.
“It will honestly be one of the most life-changing experiences you will ever go through,” Chelsea says. “The feeling of giving back to something you feel strongly about is a thing money can’t buy.”
Madison agrees, adding that you should choose an organization that has impacted you personally. “I also recommend having someone there at the sale to represent the organization you’re donating to,” she says.
For Cody, the best advice he has is to make it personal.
“Find something you think is worth it,” he says. “And it doesn’t have to be big. You can make a positive influence on a small scale with little things every day just as easily as you can doing something big one time.”
– Rachel Bertone