Community friends, family and veterans followed the smell of pancakes through the hallways to the Honor Flight Breakfast, hosted by the Butler Tech FFA at Edgewood High School. They raised over $10,000 to donate to Dayton Honor Flight, an organization that flies veterans to Washington so they can tour the monuments built to commemorate their service.
“The outpouring of support for this event is incredible. We estimated around 180 people to show up, but we’ve already served over 200 people.” explains Kellie Beiser, Edgewood High School Agricultural Education instructor and FFA advisor.
Everyone flowing in to the gym was greeted by a line of several tables that carried countless trays of pancakes, eggs, sausage and coffee cake, which staff served effortlessly. Those individuals working the event stayed in constant motion serving food, filling cups with juice and coffee, and stopped by each table to make sure everyone was happy.
In the kitchen, the pace of everyone cooking was the same as their counterparts in the gym. Boxes of pancake mix and egg cartons emptied faster than another one could be opened as Butler Tech’s FCCLA members cracked, beat and scrambled dozens of eggs, and flipped up to 18 pancakes between two griddles.
“I wasn’t sure if students knew what they were getting themselves into when they took on this project, but they were so motivated to make this work. And they did it, they made happen,” says Beiser.
Community support came from all directions to help make this event possible, from parents who delivered eggs from their farms and baked several large trays of coffee cakes, to the Liberty-Fairfield Kroger who donated pancake mix, juice, plates, coffee, milk and eating utensils. Employees at Miller Coors also raised $300 to give to students.
The breakfast was only one portion of students’ service project. They also wanted to raise $10,000 for the Dayton Honor Flight organization and knew if they wanted to reach that amount, needed to start planning immediately.
In May, the members agreed on the following: the eight FFA officers would get 2 sponsors, and the 55 members, one. The officers each got 3 sponsors, with the other members finding a wide net of financial support in the community that successfully pushed them over their goal.
“When we called the Dayton Honor Flight representative to let her know we raised over $10,000 for them, she started to cry.” says Jarrett Crowthers, Edgewood High School senior and FFA Vice President.
Roy Crowthers, a veteran who served on a destroyer in the Navy and Jarrett’s grandfather, was also in attendance. When Jarrett called for all veterans to stand and be recognized, Roy looked at his grandson, smiled from ear-to-ear, and rose to his feet.
“When you put in years of your life to help your country it really feels nice to be recognized.” says Crowthers.
Later that evening the group traveled to the Dayton Airport to greet veterans returning from the Honor Flight trip. Students waved bright red, yellow and green signs that colorfully read “Thank you for your service!” and “Welcome Back!” as their faces glowed with excitement in shaking the hands of veterans.
Hunter Bontrager, a junior at Edgewood High School and FFA officer, was one of the many students who attended the event, and while shaking veterans’ hands, he began to feel how incredible it was to be a part of the moment. “Being able to go to the airport to see the faces of the veterans made my heart swell. The fact that I, myself, made someone feel welcome made me overjoyed and I hope to do this again!”
For Brooklyn Manning, a sophomore at Edgewood High School and FFA member, she shared in the same emotions as her friends. “It was amazing to be a part of the welcome home. The smiles and happy tears of the veterans made me feel great about raising money for Honor Flight.”
FFA is an organization for students who are both interested in learning about the agricultural industry and pursuing a future as scientists, teachers, business owners and more. The number of programs available to students gives them the unique opportunity to develop themselves both personally and professionally, making them tomorrow’s leaders.