Jersey Shore’s FBLA helps local food pantry

Jersey Shore’s FBLA chapter helps the New Love Center, a local food pantry

JERSEY SHORE — Jersey Shore Area School District’s Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter’s 127 members racked up numerous awards at a recent regional conference at the Pennsylvania College of Technology, but it’s what those members have done in their local community that makes them outstanding.

The group’s #weSHOREcare project, which benefits the New Love Center, a local food pantry, qualified for the state conference.

“The #weSHOREcare project started as an idea last spring,” said Dolly Oden, business and computer technologies teacher at the high school and advisor to the group. “Our officers wanted to do a big community service project and they wanted it to benefit the local community where they live.”

“Jersey Shore FBLA senior high chapter has always emphasized community service with our school and town,” said Annalise Eiswerth, one of the chairpersons for the project. “This year we wanted to do something different than in past years by taking on a bigger challenge through our community service project. We wanted to help our local community including some of the students in our school.”

Oden said the group met with Rev. Kerry Aucker from the center and pitched the idea of possibly doing a Thanksgiving food drive within the school district. Instead they decided to focus on the meal boxes that the center provides at Christmas. Aucker had told them that they delivered about 500 boxes each December.

“The officers went to work from there. Some volunteered over the summer at the New Love Center and started the planning process,” Oden said. The group then decided to expand the project to include not only the school, but surrounding communities.

In the fall, a presentation by a national motivational speaker and the founder of the “Because I said I would” social movement, Alex Sheen, kicked off the project. At that time FBLA decided they would promise to fill the 500 boxes for the New Love Center, according to Oden.

“The Christmas box is a meal box distributed during the holiday season in December that includes one chicken, two cans of corn, two can of green beans, two boxes of stuffing, two cans of gravy, one box of instant potatoes and one can of cranberry sauce,” Eiswerth detailed.

“Our FBLA was very moved by these boxes and was motivated to help this project in any way we could,” she added.

Each school within the district was responsible for different food items that would be collected during November. Different incentives were offered in order to motivate the students, the ultimate one being if all the schools met their goals, the principals and their assistants would camp out overnight in December on the football field.

The students were responsible for all of the food for the food boxes except the chickens, so they had to come up with the funds to cover $5 per chicken. To do this, Oden said, they spoke with area businesses and worked closely with the Jersey Shore Education Foundation.

With determination and ingenuity, the group exceeded their original goals. The school district collected a total of 7,308 cans of food as well as 500 handmade holiday cards for in the boxes. They also surpassed their fundraising goal by raising $13,324. Of that a total of $12,854 went directly to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank to cover the costs for the New Love Center’s 500 Christmas meal boxes, Oden said. They had enough money left over to cover all costs for 500 meal boxes which will be distributed at Easter. In addition they donated $2,500 towards the Backpack program that supports students in the district. They also donated $470 to the Advanced Placement testing for students who receive free and reduced lunches, she noted.

“The project was a huge success because everyone came together to support or give back to our own area families and students,” Oden added.

“I’m so proud of the students, taking on this community project and bringing the community together. The theme of our school is compassion cares. To include the business community, the community at large and our school community — to bring the three together — it’s phenomenal,” said Steven Keen, principal at the Jersey Shore High School.

FBLA is open to students preparing for careers in business or to those who are just simply interested in learning more about the free enterprise system. Students develop leadership abilities and engage in activities designed to make them better members of the community.

“The students really had to work together, plan out social media, follow up with supporters and have a plan for the project to come together,” Oden said.

“This really taught them a lot about business, time management, planning, setting goals and most importantly giving back to their communities. They are excited that everyone came together to show the compassion and support the #weSHOREcare project was meant to represent,” she added.