April 24, 2015
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Winn-Dixie No. 728 Director James Kalena (left) along with store Nos. 723, 726 and 2480 bought two pigs from the Lee County Fair auction, including 249-and 256-pound pigs.​

Winn-Dixie stores in Lee and Charlotte counties supported community students involved in 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) organizations by bidding on pigs at the County Fairs’ Youth Livestock Auctions.

Winn-Dixie Nos. 723, 728, 726 and 2480 in Lee County each contributed $500 to bid on and purchase a 249-pound pig and a 256-pound pig. Winn-Dixie No. 741 in Punta Gorda bid on a 275-pound pig at the Charlotte County Fair for $1,100.

The funds Winn-Dixie paid for the pigs is given to the students who raised them to supplement their college funds. The pigs Winn-Dixie purchased were given to a buyback program where the pigs go back up for auction, usually at a lower price. Winn-Dixie then donated the money made from the buyback to FFA.

Winn-Dixie No. 728 Store Director James Kalena said he has participated in the livestock auctions for 14 years.

“It’s a really great way to support the kids and our local community,” said Kalena. “Both of my sons have gone through the process of raising a pig and selling it at the county fair auction – it helps the kids learn responsibility and gives them something to be in charge of.”

The 4-H and FFA students raise the pigs to earn scholarship money. They purchase their pigs in late September or early October, when they are a few months old. From then until the auction, it is the students’ responsibility to feed, bathe and care for the animals. There is a qualifying weigh-in halfway through that time period in order for the pigs to go to auction. The pigs usually reach 200 to 350 pounds by the time of the auction.

4-H and FFA are prevalent organizations in Lee and Charlotte counties. The customers in those areas put a big emphasis on the livestock auctions and helping the kids who raised the animals.

“A lot of our customers either have kids in FFA or have participated themselves – it’s a pretty big deal with our customers,” said Marc Chrisman, Winn-Dixie No. 741 director.

Chrisman has bid on pigs in the Charlotte County Fair livestock auction for three years and the community really responds well to seeing Winn-Dixie represented.

“It really means a lot to our customers to see their local supermarket involved in helping the kids,” said Chrisman. “Our customers recognize the fact that we’re there and we’re bidding on animals, purchasing a couple and donating the money back. I still have customers come up to me on a daily basis to thank me for helping the kids. It’s all about the kids.”

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Winn-Dixie No. 741 purchased a 275-pound pig at the Charlotte Fair Livestock Auction.

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