The Family Consumer Science Club, formerly known as Future Homemakers of America, is a popular organization at the Newell-Fonda High School. The group of students learn to be more caring as they take part in several activities and projects throughout the school year.
Advisor for the group is FCS teacher Cindy Bruner. "I love it. I love teaching and I thoroughly enjoy FCS."
The students involved are all enthusiastic, she said, and fun to work with.
Although FCS Clubs can be state-affiliated, the one at N-F, and other area schools, is not.
This year's group is comprised of 49 students from ninth through 12th grade.
The students have only three meetings during the school year - but don't let that fool you - they have many events they sponsor.
Officers are comprised of representatives of each of the four grades with the president of the group always being a senior, who moves up from a vice-president spot held as a junior.
The FCS members take charge of the Meals on Wheels program during the school year and recruit juniors and seniors in the school to serve as volunteers as well.
Students sign up to pick up the meals already prepared and packed in a cooler from the Good Samaritan Home, deliver the warm meals to those Newell residents who have called in requesting the meals, and then return the cooler to the nursing home. Students don't know until they arrive at GSC if they will have one meal to deliver or more.
"The kids love it," Bruner said. The volunteers give up their time, their car and their gas to be a part of the program. A senior drives while a junior rides along to see how the routine works.
The students also must make arrangements to get out of class for the 15-20 minute period and make up any work they miss in that time frame.
The elderly also enjoy the visit from the young people.
The students know first aid procedures in case they come across someone who has fallen or is ill when they arrive and they know what they must do and who to call in case of an emergency.
The response of the N-F students has been tremendous and by them helping out during the school year (weekdays), those adult volunteers get some time off.
The students have been taking part in this project for five years.
As an added features, the FCS members often make favors to be sent with the meals. Students in K-third grades also contribute art projects for the elderly. "It's a nice surprise for the seniors and is something meant to brighten their day."
Bruner thanks school secretary Dana Seivert for her help in making up the student schedule and finding substitutes if the time arises.
There are many other events that the students take part in. Secret Pals is something they enjoy the month preceding Christmas. "This is a good mixer and makes them think of others," Bruner said.
This year the group decided to adopt a family at Christmas through the Upper Des Moines Opportunity. Instead of taking all the money from the group's treasury, all the students donated as much money as they wanted to the cause and that money was then matched from the treasury money. By doing it in this manner, all members feel like they are a part of the project. The group was able to purchase $160 worth of items for the family.
"The kids went by themselves and did an excellent job shopping all on their own," said Bruner. "I was so impressed how well they did. They had a budget to stick with and with what little bit they had left over, they were able to purchase a gift card."
The whole concept was a learning experience. Not only, said Bruner, did they learn to care about someone in need, but they learned how to be consumers. "They chose useful gifts for all the different ages."
The group also holds an annual Valentine's Day fundraiser called Candy Grams. A member of the group designs two Valentine's Day cards - one with a message and one blank. For 25 cents, the cards, which includes a foil-wrapped chocolate, can be sent to anyone at the school. Some students receive several but everyone in the high school receives at least one. (If a Candy Gram hasn't been ordered for a student, the club prepares one.)
"This is a good money maker and a nice way to tell someone they are special."
The faculty even has fun with the event.
Candy Grams has been a fundraiser by the group for 15 years. Often, 900-1,000 valentines are sent out.
The group also collects pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House and in the past the organization made two freedom quilts for Betty Nielsen of Fonda to distribute. (The group even received thank you notes from the two families which pleased them.)
Destiny Sievers is this year's FCS president. She commented about the organization,
"FCS is a great club. We get involved in activities throughout the year. Everyone has fun and enjoy being a member."
The organization is open to boys as well as girls. This year, however, there are no boys involved, but several boys do take part in the Meals on Wheels program.