The Rusk ISD FFA chapter began its annual Week of Service on Monday to help communities as far away as Uganda.

The event included a weeklong friendly food drive competition between Rusk chapters as well as chapters from Bullard ISD.

The Rusk FFA began its week of service in 2013 to promote community service among its members. While attending a national FFA convention, several Rusk FFA members participated in the National Day of Service where the idea was born to host a similar event at the local level.

The result was the creation of a week of service where Rusk FFA members would dedicate a specific week each year to focus on serving the community. That year, 2,189 food items were collected, according to Rusk agriculture teacher Brian Martin.

In 2016, the Rusk FFA developed the “Stock the Stock Trailer” food drive to create competition that would grow the district-wide food drive. The program was set up to challenge an opposing FFA chapter from a school Rusk would play in football that week to see who could gather the most non-perishable food items into their stock trailer.

“The results were outstanding, with totals more than quadrupling from the year prior. Since that time, the Rusk FFA has challenged various chapters and in 2021 we have challenged the Bullard FFA,” Martin said.

“The details of the food drive are simple; each chapter has the week to gather as many non-perishable food items as they can. At Rusk, we incorporate the entire school district creating competitions amongst ourselves,” Martin continued. “This year the primary campus is competing against the elementary, the intermediate against the junior high, the high school organizations compete against each other, and our Rusk ISD departments compete against each other.”

Martin emphasized the importance of events like these in the community.

“The food drive is important because there is a great need within our communities for our local food bank. And teaching our students service is something that should pay dividends for our community for years to come,” he said.

On Friday, the Rusk FFA Stock Trailer was driven to all the campuses and departments to gather the food collected for the week and get the grand total.

At the football game against Bullard, which was also homecoming night for Rusk, the Eagles were declared the winners of the drive. The Rusk and Bullard districts worked together to gather 12,011 non-perishable food items with Rusk ISD generating 8,789 of that total.

However, Martin made it clear it wasn’t about the districts competing.

“The real winner is the needy in our communities,” he said.

Since 2013 when the food drive began, the Rusk FFA has worked with the students of Rusk ISD to generate more than 73,000 non-perishable food items. All the food generated by the competing chapters is donated to their local communities.

The Rusk FFA donates all their food items to the local Good Samaritan Food Pantry.


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