BP FFA collects toys again
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 fifth 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.
The community toy drive starts Monday, Nov. 25 and will end Sunday, Dec. 8. Dropoff points are the Blooming Prairie High School office, the BP Elementary School office and the Prairie Manor Care Center.
The toys need not be wrapped.
FFA members ask that community members bring something new or nearly new. Rinkenberger suggested these items as possibilities for donations: stuffed animals, puzzles, books, crayons, color books and anything a kid could use.
The project gained a beginning 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 commandeers a seven-passenger van from the Blooming Prairie School District to take the toys to the Ronald McDonald House.
The project involves most of the Blooming Prairie FFA chapter members. The chapter recently broke the 50-member mark and now has 54 members. The chapter had only 12 members in 2003, Rinkenberger related.
"We get a tour of the facilities and I wish we could talk to the kids but we must communicate with staff because of privacy concerns," Rinkenberger said.
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.
In 2017, 1,079 families were unable to stay with us because when they called, no rooms were available. In the past four years, the Ronald McDonald House of Rochester has turned away more than 4,000 families who needed our services.
To address this need, the Ronald McDonald House of Rochester opened an expansion of the current facility along Second Street SW.
The House celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 16. The expansion increases the number of guest rooms from 42 to 70 and adds much-needed community spaces, including indoor and outdoor play areas for children.