Monday, June 1, 2020
The Blooming Prairie Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter is again collecting toys and other items for the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester. Helping make collection boxes were Lexi Ripka, left, Erin O'Brien and FFA advisor Bill Rinkenberger.

BP FFA chapter joins hands with Ronald McDonald

The Blooming Prairie Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter is once again joining hands with the Ronald McDonald House of Rochester.

Their objective is to put smiles on the faces of little kids fighting medical issues.

The Ronald McDonald House of Rochester provides a home-away-from home and offers support to families seeking medical care for their children.

This is the third year that the local FFA chapter, advised by Bill Rinkenberger (known to his students and friends as Rink), is looking for community help in collecting toys that can be sent to the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester.

Sophomore Erin O'Brien is chair of the project for this year. She worked on the project last year and even as a youngster, not connected with the FFA, she worked with her father in collecting toys for needy kids.

The community toy drive started Monday, Nov. 19 and will end Sunday, Dec. 9.

Collection boxes are located in the Blooming Prairie High School office, in the BP Elementary school office and at the Prairie Manor Care Center.

O’Brien was instrumental in arranging a time and a place to make boxes. Advisor Rinkenberger even helped make collection boxes.

New or slightly used boys and stuffed animals are welcome, O'Brien said. Other items such as toiletries are also welcome.

The project gained a begining on the urging of FFA advisor Rinkenberger, a native of Fosston, Minn. 

Rinkenberger said he was stricken with cancer in 2003 and was transferring his medical records to Rochester. On a visit for therapy in Rochester, Rinkenberger said he had some time to wander around the hospital.

"I ended up in the children's cancer wing and saw some heart wrenching examples of little kids threatened with the effects of cancer," Rinkeberger relates.

"I thought if there was a way to help, the Ronald McDonald House might be the answer," Rinkenberger said. He made the connection and the project has continued.

Rinkenberger, O’Brien, Kaiden Finley and Casey Lyman made the trip to Rochester last year to drop off the toys.

"I wish we could talk to the kids but we must communicate with staff because of privacy concerns," Rinkenberger said.

"It's really cool," O’Brien said in describing her experience last year of delivering toys to the Ronald McDonald House.

In 2017, The Ronald McDonald House of Rochester served 761 families from around the United States and the world.

The Ronald McDonald House is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Governed by a volunteer board of trustees, the House hosts 42 families each night and has been in operation since 1980.


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Steele County Times & DCI

Steele County Times
411 E. Main St.
P.O. Box 247
Blooming Prairie, MN 55917

Dodge County Independent
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944

Dodge County Printing
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944


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