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Herkimer BOCES VP-TECH student’s fundraiser supports military members, veterans

Jan. 31, 2020



 VP-TECH student Zoe Randall standing in front of a colorful map and behind boxes of donations


Herkimer BOCES VP-TECH student Zoe Randall, a junior from Central Valley, poses boxes full of items that were donated as part of a fundraiser she organized for active members of the military and veterans.




Some active military members and veterans will be receiving hundreds of items such as food, blankets, hats, socks, shampoo, shaving cream, toothbrushes and letters from local children thanks to an effort organized by Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Valley Pathways in Technology student Zoe Randall.

Randall, a junior from Central Valley, said she received donations from students and staff at Herkimer BOCES and from businesses and others in the area.

“I couldn’t be more proud of everyone in the school and everyone in the community for coming together,” she said. “I was very proud of everyone that came together as one.”

Randall ran the fundraiser from mid-December through mid-January, storing the items at Herkimer BOCES during the process. She and her parents, Fred and Traci Randall, picked up the items on Wednesday, Jan. 29, and delivered them to the American Legion in Mohawk to be distributed to active servicemen and servicewomen and veterans.

“They were very grateful,” she said, of the American Legion members.

Due to taking high school and college classes through Herkimer BOCES VP-TECH while also doing nursing work, Randall had a busy schedule during the fundraiser, but she enjoyed the process.

“There were some times it was stressful, but I knew I could get it done,” she said. “I knew this was important to me, so I knew I was going to get things done and do it.”

VP-TECH focuses on technology, project-based learning and real-world work situations. Students can spend four to six years in the program to earn a Regents diploma, an associate degree in quality assurance from Herkimer College for free, a certification in advanced manufacturing and connections with local businesses.

‘I connected with it’

Randall was inspired to start the fundraiser because her father served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years.

“He loved it because it was like a family to him,” she said.

She, however, also saw that her father had to deal with a friend of his in the military committing suicide and that he had PTSD after serving. Additionally, she knew the struggles military families can face, so all of it combined to make her want to start the fundraiser.

“I connected with it so much, and it was personal too,” she said. “I wanted to give back, and I saw what he had to go through. And as a kid, it’s hard because you have a parent that leaves, and you never know if they’re going to come back.”

The idea of the fundraiser was to send a positive message to military members.

“We might not be there personally, but we’re still by them and watching them, supporting them,” she said.

‘Became much bigger’

VP-TECH business teacher Andrew Carpenter said Randall approached him with the idea of the fundraiser, and once she received approval, she ran with it from there. She talked to students in various BOCES classes, students started bringing in boxes of items, and the effort got bigger and bigger, he said.

“She did this whole thing,” Carpenter said. “I honestly didn’t expect it to be as big as it was.”

Neither did Randall.

“We thought it was going to be little, and it actually became much bigger,” Randall said. “I was so glad because we all came together as a school and a community.”

Her father offered moral support and was able to talk to her about the value of a donated item or letter when serving in the military.

“Even just one little thing meant so much,” she said.

Randall’s mother also helped, and a donation was received from the Walmart where her mother works.

Other students assisted – either by bringing in items or spreading the word. Her friend, Alyssa Bregard, also a VP-TECH junior of Central Valley, played a large role – including speaking to classes with her and collecting donations.

“I started it, but I didn’t want to do it without her by my side because she’s my best friend,” Randall said.

Teachers provided information and support to Randall throughout the process as well.

“They pushed me through and helped me,” she said. “I got so much support through my parents, the school and the students.”

‘It’s time’

Randall spread the message of her fundraiser by writing letters to send home to parents and by presenting to students in other BOCES programs.

As she talked about the pain that members of the military and their families go through, students looked focused, and they listened and engaged in deep conversations, she said.

“I told them that it’s time we did something bigger than ourselves and had a positive impact on the people that are helping us and serving for us,” she said. “I told them I think it’s time for us to come together and do it.”

She asked for any donations people wanted to make.

“Even letters mean so much,” she said.

Whichever class donated the most items also received a pizza party, but that wasn’t the focus, Randall said. The Automotive Technology program won the competition after Automotive Technology student Makayla Lawrence donated 130 items.

Randall appreciated the large response from everyone involved.

“It felt great,” she said. “It felt like I had a purpose. It felt like I did something that is bigger than me. It motivated me to do more fundraising.”

‘Good in the world’

The feelings of the experience hit Randall the most when she and her parents dropped off the items at the American Legion at the end of the fundraiser.

“The support was so overwhelming,” she said. “It was emotional.”

 Her parents also commented that her grandfather would have been proud of her, and that meant a lot, she said.

With the fundraiser taking place over the course of just about a month – including holidays and a school break in the middle of it – it showed how much can be accomplished in a limited amount of time, Randall said.

“To see what people can do in a short time, that makes you think how many other things we can do in a short time,” she said.

The military has to deal with so many negatives such as war, terrorism and other struggles, but the fundraiser brought out the other side of that, Randall said.

“We as a school showed that there’s still good in the world to give,” she said.

 


Two students standing by boxes of donated items


Herkimer BOCES VP-TECH student Zoe Randall (right), a junior from Central Valley, organized a fundraiser for active members of the military and veterans. VP-TECH student Alyssa Bregard, also a junior of Central Valley, helped with the fundraiser. Here, Randall and Bregard pose with boxes of items donated through the effort.




Student Zoe Randall standing by boxes of donations she delivered at the Mohawk American Legion


Herkimer BOCES VP-TECH student Zoe Randall, a junior from Central Valley, drops off boxes full of items that were donated as part of a fundraiser she organized for active members of the military and veterans to the American Legion in Mohawk on Wednesday, Jan. 29.




Two students sitting in front of boxes of donations


Herkimer BOCES VP-TECH student Zoe Randall (right), a junior from Central Valley, organized a fundraiser for active members of the military and veterans. VP-TECH student Alyssa Bregard, also a junior of Central Valley, helped with the fundraiser. Here, Randall and Bregard pose with boxes of items donated through the effort.




Boxes of donations for military members and veterans


Herkimer BOCES VP-TECH student Zoe Randall, a junior from Central Valley, organized a fundraiser for active members of the military and veterans. Pictured here are boxes of items donated as part of the cause.