By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
SHELBINA, Mo. -- South Shelby FFA members took something extra to this spring's state convention -- a Precious Moments figurine inspired by their friend, the late Christy Maubach, and her love of FFA.
Maubach, who died in a September 2010 automobile accident, made a lasting impression on her South Shelby classmates, FFA members and her community.
"She would think it's great to have FFA represented on a Precious Moment," South Shelby FFA Adviser Tim Larrick said. "It's a reminder ... she was diehard FFA."
FFA members delivered 80 and took orders for another 70 of the figurines, a girl and boy each sporting a cap with the FFA logo, available only at Chicken Coop Collectibles in Shelbina.
Store owner Jo Kampschmidt already has gotten orders from 30 states and Canada.
"I said it would sure be fun to have one in her memory in every state, but I was joking," she said. "I've had some of the nicest conversations with people all over the country."
Kampschmidt said the idea came from Larrick, who has bought Precious Moments for his wife and mother-in-law.
"I thought it would be a neat thing if we could get one made in her honor," Larrick said. "I mentioned it to Jo, and that possibility became a reality. It's pretty exciting."
Kampschmidt pursued the idea with Precious Moments representatives, who readily saw a connection between Maubach's story and the company's commitment to well-being, caring and sharing.
"Each figure has a title, almost a story behind it, and this fell right into that," Patsy Larson, eastern region sales director with Precious Moments, Inc., said. "This definitely told a story in not only trying to remember Christy but giving faith and inspiration to everyone who knew here and the whole organization of FFA as well."
Developing the figurine took time and plenty of conversation with the FFA to include its logo on the pieces titled "I Believe," words repeated in the organization's creed. Along with the girl figurine to honor Maubach, "FFA had to have a boy, too," Kampschmidt said.
Many customers who pre-ordered the girl figurine also added the boy to have the set, and that's good news for Kampschmidt, who had to order a minimum 1,200 of each figurine. She has sold Precious Moments for 30 years but previously ordered a maximum of 100 figurines at a time.
"I've never been involved in something like this before, and I may never do it again," Kampschmidt said. "Right now boxing and mailing is a new project, but so far I'm keeping up pretty well."
The effort has been worth it, Kampschmidt said, and a percentage of the proceeds will be donated to a scholarship fund in Maubach's name.
"It's been an interesting experience, but we would much prefer to have Christy back," Kampschmidt said. "She was a lovely girl."
Maubach's mother, Lola Maubach, died of cancer in May 2009. After her death, Maubuach helped her father care for her three younger siblings, her sister Alisha and brothers Bud and Michael. She shopped for groceries, clothing and Christmas presents, cooked, cleaned and helped with homework while keeping up her own grades, working a part-time job and staying active in FFA as a chapter officer and area secretary. She died in a car accident as she was driving to school on Sept. 14, 2010.
Maubach's story was featured in the summer 2012 edition of "Moments," a magazine for Precious Moments collectors. "So many in other states have been touched with the story, have called and wanted to know more about it. It makes you feel good people are concerned," Kampschmidt said.
Some of the callers were collectors who want only exclusive figurines. Others collect only boys or girls, or they may have strong ties to FFA.
Maubach showed cattle in FFA, enjoyed public speaking and loved meeting people. She met the requirements for the state FFA degree, awarded after her death in April 2011, and Larrick expects she will receive the American Degree, the highest in FFA, in October in Indianapolis.
"There were kids we went to FFA camp with who went to her visitation and their comment was, â You only had to meet here once and you were hooked,'" Larrick said. "She had that personality, a great gift to bring out the best in people."
Even now, Maubach's positive impact continues. Kampschmidt already had orders for the figurines and fortunately had taken the records home in October when a devastating fire destroyed nearly a full block of Shelbina's downtown, including her own business. Friends quickly set her up in a temporary location so she could continue to take orders for the figurines. More friends helped Kampschmidt unload pallets of the figurines which arrived in April, and Maubach's father, Bobby, opened the first box.
"It's been an unbelievable year," Kampschmidt said. "There's been a terrific community spirit behind getting it done. They have really stepped up, offered to help in any way they could. That's always fun, when everybody kind of pitches in on something. Christy was very well-liked."