Coordinating aid in times of crisis is nothing new to Inman High School senior Makayla Schroeder, so when she decided to organize a drive for animal feed and supplies to assist flooding victims in Nebraska, it didn't take long for her to form Operation Feed the Critters.
"Every year for the last four or five years, I've done something related to emergency relief," Schroeder said. "...Last year, I did something similar (where) we collected food for Hurricane Harvey victims."
"When she saw a need up north, she said, 'hey is this something we can do,'" said Ag Education teacher Daniel Knapp. "...As soon as we got the OK, my officer team had flyers and reached out on social media."
Hearing of the many farmers and ranchers affected by the flooding, Schroeder — along with her fellow Inman FFA officers and — are collecting supplies at the high school through Friday.
"The FFA motto is 'learning to do, doing to learn, earning to live, living to serve,'" Knapp said. "All parts of that motto are important, but I think my chapter pushes that 'living to serve' ... every time there's a need, the kids are willing to step up."
The students are collecting both wet and dry food for dogs and cats, along with livestock feed for horses, sheep, goats and cattle. Hay bales and silage are also being requested. There is also a need for calf bottle and milk replacer, as many cattle were killed in the flooding.
Other animal supplies such as medical items, lead ropes, halters, leather gloves, gauze and paper towels are being gathered. Beds, brushes, collars and carriers for dogs and cats are also being accepted.
"Anything that's brought in is greatly appreciated," Schroeder said.
The amount of supplies already collected — from an anonymously given pallet of dog food to individuals bringing in hay bales to area businesses donating tons of feed — has grown beyond what could fit in the trailer the students planned to fill.
"People in the community have been awesome. People want to help and they've been generous with their donations," Knapp said.
"We've had a lot of monetary donations and I think we have about $1,000 to go shopping with to go buy even more feed," Schroeder said.
Alex Ropp of Buckskin Farms stepped in to volunteer his semi trailer to transport the donated supplies to the veterinary clinic serving as a dispersal point in Elkhorn, Nebraska.
"As long as everything goes through, we're looking at 12 or 13 tons of feed," Schroeder said.
"We're hoping to take a semi trailer full and more," Knapp said. "...We're hoping to make as large an impact as we can."
Other FFA chapters in the district are also working to collect donations of items.
"I'm always trying to encourage kids to do service projects, because what better way to help them learn than to help their neighbors," Knapp said. "...If everyone helped their neighbors out, the world would just be a lot better place."
"I've just grown up watching my parents help other people ... it's just good human nature to help out," Schroeder said. "When we're in trouble, they help us and when they're in trouble, we help them — that's just the farming and ranching community."
Small items can be donated at the Inman Junior/Senior High School office at 404 S. Main St.; larger items can be dropped off at the school's ag shop between 7:45 a.m to 4:30 p.m.
The Tractor Supply Company locations in McPherson and Hutchinson are accepting a 10% off coupon that can be found on the Inman Voag Facebook page for supplies purchased at the stores intended for flooding relief efforts.
Cornerstone Market, located at 217 S. Main in Inman, also has a collection jar set up for monetary donations.
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her stories on Twitter at @MiddleSentinel.