Kids today don't know how to coast.
Take Mason Finocchio, a Bald Eagle Area High School student who insists on winning awards and continuing the fight against hunger even with a precious few weeks standing between him and graduation.
At this point, it might just be force of habit. Finocchio has been trying to put more food in bellies since the fall of 2015, when he took on a hunger challenge delivered to BEA through the National FFA Organization. He launched his "Knock out Hunger" initiative with the goal to raise $5,000 in donations for local pantries and backpack programs.
By the time Finocchio graduates this summer, he'll have generated close to $15,000.
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"As the years progressed it got easier and easier to raise the money because the more people are aware, the more they want to help," Finocchio said.
Attracting attention doesn't seem to be an issue for him anymore. Finocchio was recently named the state FFA winner in Home and Community Development — complete with a congratulatory letter from Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman — and received the Bruce E. Knox Award for Outstanding Community Service.
On May 17, he'll help facilitate the third annual "A Catered Affair" at Robbins Paradise Ranch in Julian to help raise awareness about hunger. Finocchio helped originate the event in 2016 and counts it among his proudest achievements from the past four years.
Todd Biddle, a BEA ag teacher who has known Finocchio since he was a wide-eyed 8th grader, thinks that all of the legwork that goes into organizing these things will help carry the young man into the future at a brisker pace.
"It's been a lot of work for him but it's taught him those core things he will need in order to succeed in life," Biddle said.
Finocchio would tend to agree. A constant diet of grant proposals and public speaking have already sharpened some previously underdeveloped skills.
"I've definitely gotten better at not stuttering and stammering around," Finocchio said.
He already has a post-graduate job lined up as a HVAC installer with PBCI Allen Mechanical and Electrical in State College. Finocchio plans to continue fighting against hunger in his off hours, but hopes that the cause will find new life at BEA.
"I'm really hoping that someone will pick up the Hunger Challenge and keep it going," Finocchio said.