Prior to COVID, Code Red maintained an active schedule of volunteer service, community events, and running of programs throughout the year. We were thrilled to fully return to that active schedule in 2022.
A long-standing service of Code Red, since 2009, had been to serve monthly at a mobile food pantry at Carlisle United Methodist Church in Wyoming, Michigan. Sadly, when COVID happened, this church discontinued offering the monthly food pantry. For a time, there were no opportunities for resuming this volunteer opportunity for our students until we connected with Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Wyoming, Michigan, who was looking for extra help with their mobile food pantry. Beginning in May, 2022, Code Red once again was able to serve our community the first Thursday of each month to continue our tradition. We help to sort food before food recipients arrive, then assist in handing out the food and helping recipients take it to their cars. The best part of volunteering is the wonderful people of Calvary Church and the connections we can make in brief conversations with food recipients resulting in smiles and “thank you’s”.
Summer of 2022 started with a robotics summer camp for elementary students. We ran a shortened version of our NRG season for one week with four evening sessions filled with STEM games and activities, robot building and modifying, and drive practice for our summer game, S.O.S. Synergy. At the end of the week, students and families participated in a tournament, complete with qualification and playoff matches as well as awards.
Community events during the off-season were plentiful in 2022 as well. We started our summer with a robot demonstration at a STEM summer camp at Davenport University. Middle school aged attendees of the camp learned about FIRST and played catch with our 2022 robot during the session.
That was followed a few weeks later by the Byron Days Festival. This growing event consisted of having a booth at the craft fair, the hub of the festival, and participating in the well-attended parade. Code Red decorated a float for the event that featured the robots and information about all of our teams (elementary, middle school, and high school). At our booth, visitors could play catch with both our 2022 and 2016 robots and build towers using toothpicks and marshmallows.
Next up was the 28th Street Metro Cruise. We were invited by the GM Manufacturing plant to be part of an open house and tour event. An entire Rapid React field was set up inside the factory, and people touring the factory could watch us along with several other area teams play elements of the game throughout the day. Our students had a great time interacting with the other teams, and even playing “tag” with our robots.
As a final community event in October, 2022, Code Red was part of the Confluence Festival in downtown Grand Rapids done in conjunction with Art Prize. Again, we were paired with several area teams to show off our robots and tell visitors all about FIRST to generate excitement for robotics and STEM. The event featured a unique activity, a robot parade through the area streets of downtown Grand Rapids.
With the arrival of Fall once again, Code Red was back to our fall activities of running our elementary program and mentoring our two FTC teams. As the robotics teams of Byron Center Public Schools, we were part of the Homecoming Parade as well. Looking back at the opportunities we had and the people we had the privilege of interacting with, we could say with confidence that we had lived out the mission of FIRST to inspire and impact.