BOTKINS — Two Botkins High School students have been blanketed— literally — with donations to support their FCCLA project.
Sophomore Sarah VanBrocklin, 16, daughter of Dena and Michael VanBrocklin, of Botkins, and freshman Emma Ewry, 14, daughter of Shelly and Patrick Ewry, of Wapakoneta, have entered the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America Star Events competition. Their project is in the Focus on Children category.
“It has to help children in your community,” Sarah said of the venture.
The girls are working as a team to collect blankets and funds to purchase stuffed toys for children in the Dayton Children’s Hospital. Their goal was 100 blankets and about $200, enough cash to purchase one stuffed toy to go with each blanket. The drive continues through Friday, Dec. 8, but at press time, they had more than reached their blanket goal. Some 349 fleece blankets are piled in the family and consumer sciences classroom of the school. The hospital requires that the blankets be rolled fleece.
“I’m really impressed with the community, with how much they have supported the girls with this project,” said FCCLA Adviser Jena Holtkamp.
All the donations to date have come from the families of children in the Botkins Elementary School. And those donations have been almost all blankets and almost no cash. The girls hope that the public will now help with cash donations so they can stick to their plan of giving a toy with each blanket. They anticipate a total of 400 blankets, so the fundraising goal is $800.
Checks can be made payable to Botkins FCCLA, with “stuffed toys” in the memo line and mailed to the school at 404 E. State St., Botkins, OH 45306. Cash donations can be made at the school office. The deadline for donations is Jan. 5.
They will not accept donations of stuffed toys.
“We want them to be new and all about the same size, so it’s better if we buy them,” Sarah said.
To publicize the drive, Sarah and Emma had made presentations in each classroom of grades one through six and distributed fliers.
“We asked for money or blankets,” Sarah said.
The duo was surprised when they went into classrooms several days later to collect.
“We thought it would be envelopes (of cash donations). We went to the first-grade room, and they had 12 blankets already. So we went upstairs and got a shopping cart. We still had to make two trips,” Emma said. “Everyone brought blankets.”
The classmates have been hauling blankets upstairs to the classroom ever since.
“We’ve been friends for awhile. We thought we’d be great together,” Emma said of why the two girls decided to become a team. It was Emma who came up with the idea for a collection to give to the hospital.
“My family fosters children from third-world countries who have health issues growing up,” she said. “Seeing how hospitals opened doors for these (children), it was something we can do to repay them and help other children.”
“You can get a blanket and take it home and it means something,” Sarah added.
They selected the Dayton facility because it is the closest children’s hospital to Botkins. But because they have more than three times the number of blankets they had planned on, they may take some to other hospitals, as well.
After they deliver the toys and coverlets in January, the teens will create a posterboard and write a speech about their project to present to FCCLA Star Event competition judges at the regional level in February. If they rank high, they will proceed to state competition and, if they do well enough there, it will be on to national competition in the summer.
“Our goal is to make it to nationals,” Emma said.
“Family, Career and Community Leaders of America is a national career and technical student organization that provides personal growth, leadership development, and career preparation opportunities for students in family and consumer sciences education,” according to the FCCLA website.
It’s mission is to promote personal growth and leadership development through family and consumer sciences education. Focusing on the multiple roles of family member, wage earner and community leader, members develop skills for life through character development, creative and critical thinking, interpersonal communication, practical knowledge and career preparation, the website says.
For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Holtkamp at 937-693-2557.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.