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Calling volunteers: 20,000 pounds of sweet potatoes

Volunteers can help in bagging 20,000 pounds of sweet potatoes on May 14 at 9 a.m. at Madison United Methodist Church. CONTRIBUTED
Volunteers can help in bagging 20,000 pounds of sweet potatoes on May 14 at 9 a.m. at Madison United Methodist Church. CONTRIBUTED

MADISON – A unique volunteer opportunity will be open on May 14 when 20,000 pounds of sweet potatoes are ‘dropped’ in downtown Madison.

Society of St. Andrew organizes ‘crop drops’ by applying the Biblical principle of gleaning, or harvesting leftover crops from fields that would otherwise be wasted. The ‘gleaned’ vegetables are then delivered for a ‘drop.’

Volunteers bag the fresh produce for local food pantries and kitchens.

“Join us on Saturday, May 14 and find out what 20,000 pounds of sweet potatoes looks like,” volunteer coordinator Mary Lynn Botts said. “Come to Madison United Methodist Church at 127 Church St. and help us bag potatoes to feed the hungry.”

Botts said the work is simple and anyone can participate. “Just bring your hands and a heart to help the hungry in our area. We will start at 9 a.m. and will work until the last potato is bagged,” she said.

The potatoes might not be appetizing to most people, but “to the hungry … to someone who doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from … it looks like a healthy, nutritious meal,” Botts said.

The sweet potato drop is a family-friendly event. All ages are welcome to volunteer. “Please invite your family and friends to join us,” Botts said.

Botts became a part-time employee with St. Andrew, then full time as project coordinator and now is volunteering. “This job is so much bigger than me. I’m such a little cog in this entire process,” Botts said.

In her work, Botts locates vegetables and fruits on local farms and orchards – “food that’s healthy and edible but isn’t pretty to be sold in grocery stores. I build relationships with local farmers. When they have produce at the end of a growing season, they contact me.”

Her network of volunteers harvests “everything from tomatoes, squash, peas to peaches, peppers and watermelons.” One “faithful lady” collects unsold produce at Madison City Farmers Market every Saturday.

For more information, call Botts at 256-658-7555, email botts@knology.net or visit endhunger.org.

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