DHS FCCLA members serve their community

Devine FCCLA members have embraced the opportunities this school year to serve their community. With the challenges that the coronavirus brought to students the past year and a half, they were happy to once again be able to hold activities and regain some of the normalcy of past years with their projects.
Chapter officers and National Qualifiers presented to over 90 incoming freshmen and parents on August 4, 2021, at Fish Camp. The officers talked about how FCCLA can help students with communication and leadership skills and help them to become better people in all aspects of their lives. They highlighted the traveling part of FCCLA from region to nationals and spotlighted two of Devine’s recently qualified national teams. The officers also took the opportunity to mention how to keep in contact with the chapter on social media so that members are always updated. On top of that, they talked about all of the amazing community service activities and the opportunities provided through those activities, and they made sure to mention that the students do not have to be an officer or in any events, but can still be in FCCLA for all of the memories and scholarship opportunities!
On August 5, 2021, Devine ISD held its New Teacher Training Day for new hires. Chapter members welcomed the 50-plus new employees to the school district with Devine FCCLA koozies. The koozies were donated to FCCLA last Spring and were a perfect project to test out the newly acquired heat press. The koozies were made in various colors and placed in a basket on the table where the new employees signed in. The chapter officers made a sign which was placed next to the basket welcoming the new employees and offering to help them in their classrooms or offices to get prepared for the upcoming year.
Devine FCCLA members partnered with the local VFW, San Antonio Food Bank, and Calvary Chapel Church on October 4, 2021, to distribute food to families in the Devine area. Thirty-five members of the chapter helped serve approximately 100 families early in the morning and then enjoyed the rest of the day participating in the State Virtual Fall Conference. Members helped create bags of dried goods, drinks, vegetables, and even pet food to hand out to cars and trucks in the line. Thanks to their help the food distribution time was shortened by thirty minutes and a successful partnership has begun between the groups!
On September 15th Devine FCCLA hosted a Fall Leadership Conference with Gonzales High School. Region V Vice-President of Membership Barbara Merlo, along with the Region V Officer from GHS, put on a conference for area schools to raise awareness about FCCLA and what the organization can offer their schools and communities. Overall 6 other schools participated with 78 students in attendance. The members spent the day in sessions over National Projects, STAR Events, Leadership and Service Learning which were given by Devine and Gonzales FCCLA members. Many students were also able to take advantage of taking FCSA tests which tested them on their knowledge of various elements of Family and Consumer Science or FCCLA content.
October’s community service project for Devine FCCLA was baking cookies for the teachers and staff at the high school. Eighteen members of the chapter stayed after school on October 14th to bake cookies. Overall 20 dozen sugar, chocolate chip, oatmeal, M&M, and peanut butter cookies were baked and put in the Teacher Workroom and front office for the staff to enjoy the next day. Chapter officers created a sign to place next to the trays of cookies thanking the teachers and staff for working so hard at the beginning of this school year. The students enjoyed the time together baking while the teachers enjoyed the sweet treats throughout the next day!
Katelyn Dinwiddie and Serenity Whitaker have been busy this fall teaching area youngsters about the importance of oral hygiene and what can happen if they get a cavity. On October 8, 2021, they presented to the 12 Devine High School Life Skills students, and on October 18th, they presented to 140 2nd graders from Ciavarra Elementary. They talked about good and bad foods and did an interactive activity with them, where they sorted foods. They demonstrated with floss to show how the kids should be flossing and asked them questions about what they learned; if they got the question correct, they could choose a prize. In the end, the girls answered their questions and passed out goodie bags filled with oral hygiene products. To take the project to another level, they even contacted a neighboring town’s elementary school and presented it to 265 2nd and 3rd graders on October 21st. These two sophomores have just started and have already taught so many students the importance of taking care of themselves!
Sophomores Hilary Barnett and Olivia Zapata have taken on the task to build tweens’ and teens’ self-confidence and self-esteem this year. On October 22nd they presented to 172 Devine Middle School 6th – 8th graders and then held a question and answer session. At the end of the presentation, the girls had the students write positive words on sticky notes. They created a sticky note wall in the school so that students can take a positive note on any day that they may need some words of encouragement. The girls have many more events planned for the upcoming months to continue to help build confident students in their community.
Freshmen members Mariah Carrillo and Maddie DuBose have taken on the mission of teaching local parents and students more about internet safety. The girls presented to 222 Devine Middle School 6th – 8th graders on October 27th, 60 5th graders at the intermediate school on October 28th, and 9 parents at The Parent Place on December 8th. Their goal was to highlight the many dangers present on the internet and also to discuss how easily cyberbullying can happen. The girls used short videos, quizzes, and activities to teach the students. During their presentation to the parents, the girls showed them different apps that will help them to monitor their childrens’ searches and online usage.
FCCLA members Arabelle Davalos and Julia Unger along with other volunteers helped families of Devine’s John J. Ciavarra Elementary paint pumpkins on October 29th. The project attracted 83 parents and students who spent an hour in the school’s cafeteria painting pumpkins. Students were asked to bring their own pumpkin while the paint and paintbrushes were supplied for them. This gave the parents and children the opportunity to decorate their pumpkins together. The painters were given the option to take their works of art home with them or to donate them.
Devine FCCLA members Dominic Davalos, Cassidy Garza, and Daniela Gutierrez-Nolan have teamed up this year to help younger students keep the lines of communication open with adults, especially their parents. On November 1st the group gave a presentation to 77 intermediate school students to get their project started. The group started with a slide show that highlighted 5 important times that kids need to communicate with their parents: mental health, bullying, school/grades, social media, how they feel. Students were encouraged, if they felt comfortable, to share examples of times that they were able to communicate with their parents or adults during these times. The FCCLA group then had them play a game dealing with communication and discussed how easy it is to keep talking to the adults in their lives as they keep growing up.
Chapter members were asked to bring items to fill goodie bags for local police officers at the November chapter meeting. As an “entrance ticket” to the meeting, students placed their donations on a table to be admitted. Community Service Chair Hilary Barnett asked that members bring one of the following items: bottled water, small Gatorade, lunch-size chips or cookies, candy bars, granola bars, or any other items that would be a snack. Members of the chapter exceeded expectations by bringing in over 200 items to fill the 18 bags for the officers!
Twenty-three members celebrated the annual Cactus Fall Festival by riding on a float in the parade to promote FCCLA in their community. Instead of just passing out candy, many STAR event participants took the opportunity to spread awareness about their projects. Many groups put candy in small bags and added facts about their projects to toss from the float. Projects this year focus on parental support in education, keeping positive self-images, helping the local food bank, helping reduce pollution, human trafficking awareness, career goals, healthy eating for children, the importance of good oral hygiene, and peer pressure. Kelli Geyer and Karma Herring even rented space for a booth to help sell bracelets for their project. They have partnered with Yudabands to help raise money for a student in Zimbabwe. The booth was a success as they sold 115 bracelets at the festival after the parade. Even though it was a cold morning, all of the members loved the chance to be a part of the festivities!
Jesslyn Sanchez has chosen to create her project on human trafficking. On November 11th, she presented at the middle school to raise the students’ awareness on what trafficking is and to be aware of their surroundings and of friend requests and of too-good-to-be-true job opportunities on social media. Sanchez chose this age group specifically because she knows that many are just beginning to have phones and social media accounts and the numbers of those trafficked are larger in this age category.
On November 12, 2021, Cynthia Maldonado and Crystal Martinez took their presentation on peer pressure to the middle school students. The girls focused on teaching the middle schoolers what peer pressure is and to be able to tell when it is positive or negative. They gave them scenarios to participate in and discussed how to handle the pressure in each of situation. Next, they played a game with the students dealing with peer pressure behaviors. In January the girls will visit the intermediate campus, as well, to start educating the younger students on the dangers of peer pressure.
Junior Angelina Rios decided to help the homeless during our upcoming winter months. She held a Toiletry Drive to collect small, travel-size deodorant, body spray, toothbrushes, and toothpaste to make bags to hand out to homeless citizens in nearby San Antonio. On November 17th she presented to 110 students in FCS classes to help make them aware that San Antonio has roughly 3,000 people experiencing homelessness right now. With winter approaching, Angelina wants to help those citizens stay safe and warm.
“Oh, the places you will go!” Juniors Sirley Chavez, Madison Cumpian, and Cassandra Elias are dedicating this year to educating their peers about planning early for their futures. The Devine FCCLA members presented to 164 students on November 18th and 19th in the Family and Consumer Science classes. Their presentation covered searching for the right fit in colleges with degree plans and future earning potentials. The girls had the students use their phones to follow QR codes for a short survey over the students’ interests and career goals and then to a site that generated a future career that may be good for them based on their answers to the questions on it. They next plan to take their presentation to the middle school and inform them of the different endorsement pathways they can follow in high school to get them to their desired careers in the future.
Senior Devine FCCLA members Kelli Geyer and Karma Herring have set a goal to educate kids, teens, and parents about the importance of educational and general support and the impact it has on lives. The girls have partnered with Yuda Bands to help raise money for tuition for a boy in Zimbabwe, Africa so that he can reach his goal of becoming an engineer. Along with the booth at Devine’s Fall Festival, the girls also had a booth in Castroville on December 4th to sell the bands to raise money. Locally they have held presentations at the high school surveying their peers about the amount of parental support they get from their own parents and also at the elementary to teach the students about the importance of education and family. The girls plan to do more presentations in the Spring to help offer information to parents, as well, on ways to help students with their educational journeys.
Makayla Breiten, Abbie Dominguez, and Kourtni Geyer are spreading the word about the dangers of pollution. On December 7th, the three girls visited the intermediate campus and spoke to 71 5th graders about keeping their community clean. The presentation was held at the school’s Outdoor Classroom and was the perfect place for an upcycling activity. The three members had collected empty water bottles and purchased soil and seeds to help show the intermediate students that one person’s trash can be another’s treasure. The girls led the students through a presentation on why pollution is bad for the environment and then gave each of the 5th graders the chance to create their own planter for growing herbs such as cilantro, basil, and parsley. Each student left the presentation with a water bottle planter and a newly planted herb to tend to this winter!
Nicholas and Ashley Mattke have taken the opportunity to spread the word on why nutrition matters to young children in their community. The brother and sister duo have made three presentations at Ciavarra Elementary School informing the youngsters about eating too many sugars and fats and have shown them better alternatives. The Devine FCCLA members believe that learning the facts early may help younger students to begin healthy lifestyle habits. On December 14th the two headed to the Driscoll Public Library to read “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” to preschool-age children. The kids were then allowed to make their own rice cake reindeer snacks and everyone was delighted when the Grinch himself showed up!
Senior members Yessika Garza, Jenysse Good, and Kendall Marek are spreading awareness this year about the rising dangers associated with human trafficking. South Texas has seen a rise in the number of cases, plus the proximity of Devine to Interstate 35, has made raising awareness a priority for these students. On November 15, the girls visited the middle school to give a presentation to 52 students on what human trafficking is and tips on how to stay safe. On December 14th the group of seniors presented to 149 FCS students at the high school to help spread the news on staying safe and who to contact. Their presentation also included social media safety tips to keep their peers aware of the dangers lurking from online traffickers. They will continue this project in the spring in hopes to keep more students in their community safe.
Devine FCCLA’s December Community Service was performed at their annual Christmas Party. Chapter president Kelli Geyer created a slideshow and attached the QR code for members to scan. Each member was then able to create a Christmas card that would be delivered to a child who would be spending the holiday at St. Jude’s Hospital. There were multiple festive cards from which to choose that were all created by patients at the hospital. There were even pre-written messages to choose or, as most of the chapter members chose, an area to write their own messages. Twenty-two members attended the party and created a special card for recipients.
The fall semester passed quickly and the chapter members were busy. They plan to keep their projects moving this spring to accomplish their goals for their projects and continue to help their community. Many of these groups will compete at the Region V Conference on January 28, 2022 in Corpus Christi. Devine FCCLA will be taking nine STAR event teams this year and will have 5 other teams compete in the Spotlight on Projects event.