We find unique opportunities to integrate STEAM into our community outreach. As a Giving Partner with Bombas Socks, we’ve created a big impact over the last 2 years with 4,000 pairs of socks donated to a local homeless shelter, Dimitri House, and underserved youth through Happy Birthday Cha Cha Cha. We promoted STEAM and FIRST@ by making 1074 STEAM Kits for youth with info on FIRST to go with the youth socks we donated. At Dmitri house, we have made lunch, stocked their pantry and dropped off over 1200 toiletry items from our community collection drive.
Our philosophy of supporting others didn’t change with COVID-19. We saw an immediate need in our community and knew we could fill it. Team members took our 3D printers home and printed 255 face shields that went to 3 hospitals, 2 nursing homes and anyone else who needed one. We modified our annual Trivia Night team fundraiser into a community Kahoot! Game to support front-line workers instead. We provided hundreds of meals purchased from our financially struggling team sponsors for front-line workers. We delivered them to 3 hospitals, a nursing home and an urgent care center. We also organized a community drive and partnered with 3 local businesses to send 9 carloads of coffee, apples and snacks to 1000+ workers. We even started a Folding@Home team which is a distributed computing project for simulating protein dynamics.
We also knew we needed to find creative ways to keep the community engaged in FIRST, so we designed a YouTube video series called We Can Robot. The series features short educational videos designed to educate and excite elementary/FLL age students about robotics and STEAM, complete with at home challenges. Topics include what is a robot, programming, 3D printing, simple machines, advocacy and more. Click here to see the series on YouTube.
By starting the Grateful Red Music Fest, we used our love of music to show our love of FIRST and our community. We hosted local bands and food trucks to join our robot demo at the town amphitheater and raised $620 for our selected charity, AutismUp. It gave a new audience a firsthand look at what we do and was covered on local TV news. The next one is in the works! Our fun, innovative events have built a community that embraces FIRST.
And, we continue to do what we can to support our community with our history of long standing events and activities. Our longest running service project is the FIRST MegaDrive at our offseason event, Ruckus, where teams compete to donate kids’ books, toys, food items and school supplies. We donate over 3,000 of these items to our community a year. Whether it’s food drives, charity walks, welcoming Honor Flight, writing to veterans, community sales (Penfield Library, Ronald McDonald House Sale, PHS’s PTSA’s Fantastic Finds Sale) or a myriad of other activities, we continue to support our community in every way we can!