After the 2007 tornado devastated Greensburg, Kan., and left farm fields littered with debris, volunteers flooded in to assist cleanup efforts in Greensburg and the surrounding areas. Almost five years later, one Greensburg area farm family vividly remembers the volunteers who came to their farm. Ki and Kim Gamble’s farm fields were strewn with metal and other debris, making it impossible to plant crops. The Gambles remember the students of Chaparral High School working tirelessly to clear the debris.
Last fall, the Gambles purchased a piece of farm equipment through an Internet auction at www.purplewave.com. That asset was part of the Bid for Blue program. Through the program, which is ongoing, Purple Wave donates a portion of its commission earned on certain asset to Kansas FFA chapters and the Kansas FFA Foundation. The winning bidders for those assets have a voice in deciding which local chapter benefits from the donations. When asked what Kansas FFA chapter they wanted to receive a portion of the donation, the Gambles quickly designated the Chaparral FFA Chapter.
When asked why they designated Chaparral, Kim Gamble replied with emotion in her voice, “It wasn’t just a volunteer experience. They understood clearing our fields meant we would be able to plant and earn our livelihood.”
Chaparral FFA Advisor Ty Theurer said volunteering after the tornado became an entire school project started by the local chapter’s members. “The nice part was going into the rural community around Greensburg to help fellow agriculturalists,” Theurer said. “To this day, the students talk about what we saw and were able to accomplish.”
Former Chaparral FFA member Jeff Cather believes all the volunteers grew from the experience. “With most of us growing up close to agriculture, we realized that we could, at any point in time, be in the same situation,” Cather said. “Knowing that, we understood that there would be people lining up to help us.”
The devastation was worse than the students imagined. “Driving into Greensburg, I instantly felt hopeless,” Cather said. “However, as we drove further into town, there were volunteers everywhere. It made me feel like I was going to be a part of something big and, as it turns out, I was. To know five years later the Gambles still remember us speaks loudly for the impact service and volunteering has on others.”
The Chaparral FFA Chapter will use the donation from Purple Wave to fund FFA member scholarships to attend the Washington Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. this summer.
Since the Bid for Blue program began in 2011, over $10,000 has been donated to the Kansas FFA Foundation and Kansas FFA chapters from across Kansas. The donation to the Kansas FFA Foundation supports career development events and student leadership development.