On June 22nd, CSX employees volunteered alongside Future Farmers of America groups from Oakleaf Junior High, Oakleaf High, and Middleburg High at the Veterans Farm in West Jacksonville.
The farm helps disabled combat veterans reintegrate back into society through the use of horticulture therapy while working together in a relaxed, open environment. Veterans work as a team to develop solutions that enable them to overcome physical and mental barriers. The farm also helps make connections between combat veterans and the civilian community at large.
On this particular day, CSX employees and about 30 FFA students worked to prepare the farm for the next group of veteran attendees, who arrive in early July. Volunteers helped clean and repair farm areas, replant blueberry bushes, pick ripe vegetables and weed overgrown areas.
FFA students were happy to be out supporting those that have given so much of themselves for our country. Devon Gelinas, 16, said he believes the work is symbiotic in nature. The farm gives veterans tangible work and a passion while helping Gelinas earn valuable skills volunteer hours.
Fellow volunteer Mitch Fronczak, 16, said, “The veterans and CSX donated an FFA jacket to me. It's good to help them because they helped me."
"We want FFA students to come work for us," said Stewardship and Engagement Coordinator for the National FFA and CSX partnership Rheba Howard. "We wanted to get involved because we see the potential in these students."
The Veterans Farm welcomes visitors and volunteers from different groups. If you’re interested in getting involved, visit www.veteransfarm.org for more information.