Volunteers at the last Sweet Potato Drop in May 2016
CULLMAN – When people work together there is almost nothing they can’t accomplish. That is exactly what happens behind the scenes many times in Cullman County, where people with big hearts offer their services and their time to ensure that things get done.
This Saturday, Jan.14, when several agencies, groups and individuals team up to feed the hungry in our area, is no exception.
According to North Alabama Agriplex Director, Rachel Dawsey, the Society of St. Andrew, the North Alabama Agriplex, TriGreen and the Cullman First United Methodist youth group, along with other community volunteers, will sort and bag 10,000 pounds of sweet potatoes from generous area farmers, including those from Haynes Farm, and redistribute this gift of one of Cullman County’s largest crops to hungry area families.
The event, called the Sweet Potato Drop, will happen on Saturday, Jan. 14, from 9:30-11:30 a.m. at the North Alabama Agriplex in Cullman.
The First UMC youth group, headed by Lora Parker, will be holding its annual “Discovery Weekend,” in which approximately 50 high school students conduct a spiritual retreat for the junior high class. An important and permanent part of this retreat has been the service component. Parker wants the youth to help local people and make a real difference. “We have been doing this for several years,” said Parker. “The kids always seem to enjoy the prayer service following the day’s work. The service is very powerful, and it’s even transformational for them to be prayed over by church members, parents and others.”
Parker asked the North Alabama Agriplex about service opportunities, and the gears started turning. The North Alabama Agriplex partners with the Society of St. Andrew (SOSA), a national association that gleans local produce and donates to the needy. SOSA contacted a local farmer who annually donates thousands of sweet potatoes to the needy around the state. Thus, a potato drop was born!
“Then we just have to work out a few details, such as hauling 10,000 pounds of potatoes from the farm to the Agriplex,” Dawsey laughed.
According to Parker, the Methodist youth are sometimes surprised to learn that there are people in their schools who hide their struggles with hunger. “They are very humbled to be a part of helping feed people who might not have enough to eat,” she said.
Parker went on to describe the day’s activities. “We will meet at the Agriplex for distribution,” she said. “The farmers will bring in 10,000 pounds of potatoes. The kids and volunteers will sort the potatoes, which might not be cosmetically pleasing to a grocer, but are good quality sweet potatoes. The kids enjoy playing games like who can find the largest sweet potato, or the oddest looking one, as they sort, bag, tie and weigh the produce.”
The logistics were worked out with TriGreen Marketing Director Bonnie Baty. TriGreen will provide a trailer, driven by Ryan Baty (Bonnie’s husband and a volunteer for SOSA).
Ryan will arrive with the 10,000 pounds of potatoes in pallet boxes to be sorted by junior and senior high youth.
SOSA coordinates places for all of this produce, donating to local agencies such as Cullman Caring for Kids, Victim Services of Cullman, First UMC’s Knapsacks for Kids and Hispanic ministry, The Caring Center, The Crossing and many more.
“These agencies gladly distribute fresh produce to their clients. The agencies appreciate giving out fresh produce,” said Dawsey.
The public is invited to come out and see a potato drop in action. Volunteers are welcome!
The Agriplex is located at 1714 Talley Ho St. in Cullman.
For more information, contact Hannah Kren from SOSA at firstname.lastname@example.org or Lora Parker from First UMC at email@example.com.
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