Since it launched in May, the Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies’ Helpers & Heroes Campaign has netted several stories of Farm Bureau members selflessly serving their fellow humans in extraordinary ways.
Here are some more stories about your neighbors, farmers, businessmen and -women, community leaders and volunteers stepping up and giving back to those in need.
Clinton County Farm Bureau member Nick Tipper of St. Johns and his wife Audrey recalibrated their herd of three-dimensional printers to fabricate personal protective equipment (PPE): face shields, masks and “ear savers” — behind-the-neck strips that give masks an alternative anchor to the wearer’s ears.
Together they created thousands of items, donating them directly to hospitals, clinics, first responders, military, people with unique health conditions and essential small businesses.
“Bombarded” with social media pleas directly from front-line workers and people at risk, Tipper started producing PPEs nearly around the clock.
“We’ve sent 53 packages to 12 different states and made several deliveries, locally and across the state,” Nick said. “For nearly six weeks we were printing 20-22 hours per day. Audrey kept the machine jobs cycled while I slept, and managed the requests and shipments once it became apparent it was necessary to organize our production.”
The pair got a big assist from Lansing’s Waverly School District, where Tipper advises the robotics team. Waverly lent him four additional printers to help better meet demand.
“With their printers and ours, we were able to turn our house’s backroom into a factory to help generate the much-needed supplies impacting thousands of people.”
Lapeer County native Joe Ankley teaches agriscience and heads up the FFA chapter at North Huron Schools in Kinde. Throughout the pandemic his program has strived to keep some ongoing activities afloat, and even created some new ones to help out the community.
The program’s community garden has been maintained to help ensure community members have access to fresh, free produce all summer and into the fall.
“We’ve continued our greenhouse and have been able to sell plants and hanging baskets to community members to help raise funds for our FFA chapter,” Ankley said.
As part of a school-sponsored family activity kit, his students created 140 succulent ‘fairy’ garden kits for local families to assemble. Each kit included a dish, soil, moss and several student-reared plants.
“Even though a lot of things have stopped, it is still important for us to engage our community, from elementary students to adults. And as a community service project, we did a five-gallon bucket garden for community members looking for fresh, easy-to-care-for vegetables.”
Matt Munsell has a small donut stand on his farm near Fowlerville. On Fridays they make a batch for distributing to area businesses that’ve stayed open throughout the pandemic shutdown: auto parts, feed stores, hardware, equipment dealers and other overlooked shops outside the emergency services circle.
“It’s a small token of appreciation we can give people that will bring a smile to their face,” Munsell said, “because who doesn’t love fresh, warm donuts? Also it’s just nice to show people someone does care and appreciate what they do.”
Munsell cruised social media to identify which local businesses might be suffering from a fried dough deficiency during the worst of the COVID lockdown.
“We asked for ideas and it was awesome to see all the local businesses people really appreciate — and who want to get some free donuts!”
Ithaca-based Vanderploeg Holsteins and De Saegher Dairy donated 100 gallons of whole milk to Ithaca school lunch programs, keeping the district’s students quenched through the end of the 2019-20 school year.
“We’re trying to support our community, along with helping out the current dairy industry milk surplus,” said Nicole Vanderploeg. “Everyone is hurting during these times and we just hope this will help our local economy and people a little more.”