FFA hosts first responder luncheon



First responders enjoyed a lunch hosted by the FFA group.

Nicollette Arabie, Editorial Team

The Buffalo FFA Chapter hosted a luncheon for first responders on the Friday before the 9/11 anniversary. Before the meal, which was attended by a number of police officers and volunteer fire department members as well as county judge Byron Ryder, superintendent Lacy Freeman said a few opening words, thanking the organizers, principal John Clements and BISD police chief Mitchell Gatson. Anthony’s donated potatoes and fried chicken, and FFA students and advisors provided salad and desserts.

FFA president Ellie Grissett gave a speech about 9/11. She spoke about the great amount of respect that students in the community feel for our first responders, and also spoke about how 9/11 had impacted and continued to impact people across the country even 21 years later.

“We wanted to honor all of the first responders because they don’t really get a nice meal most of the time because they’re on the job,” Grissett said.  “And, with it being so close to 9/11 and the Uvalde shooting, it just felt right. It’s a remembrance to the 415 first responders that died at 9/11 and the many others who died due to cancers or other things caused by 9/11 over the years, and also a thank you to our own first responders.”

FFA chapter officers served lunch. One of the officers, Allison Bing, has a brother who is a volunteer fire department member in Buffalo.

“I felt honored to be able to serve Leon County’s first responders,” Bing said. “I also was happy to see my oldest brother as a first responder and I’m glad I got to serve him like he serves our community.”

Planning the event did take time.

“We planned the lunch at the State FFA Convention,” sophomore parliamentarian Dawson Grissett said. “Mr. Clements asked us to do a nice lunch for the responders in our community, so we decided to use Anthony’s for our food. The ladies in our front office, Mrs. Lack, Mrs. King, and Miss Taylor Lack, helped us bring the food here.”

The day was a bit hectic, with school pictures also taking place, but the lunch was an overall success. For new teacher Jaylee Cleveland, whose husband is a member of the volunteer fire department, this was one of her first events with the FFA.

“My husband and his family are all members of the department and it was super special for my first event to be centered around the people I care about,” Cleveland said. “It was very personal to me that my family was so involved in it. I think it went really well; it had a great turnout, and even though some people couldn’t manage to make it, the event was a huge success, with everyone from state troopers to the county judge showing up.”

Teacher Eloy Perez expressed his pride in the FFA officers.

“Overall, I think it was a huge success, especially with FFA kids serving and being in official dress,” Perez said. “I think they really represented our chapter well. They were excited to do it, and I was excited by their enthusiasm.”

Mitch Gatson, Buffalo ISD Chief of Police, agreed that the event was a success and was appreciated by the first responders who attended.

“We were all excited by the meal and extremely impressed by the students in official dress,” Gatson said. “I can only see these getting bigger and better. The future for not only these lunches, but for these kids, is bright, and I can’t wait to see where they all go.”