My husband and I hosted a charity event last week on our farm. It took weeks to prepare, we had to empty out our shed and clean, clean, clean. Keep in mind it is harvest time and our shed is usually full of machinery, tools and equipment used on a daily basis. Finding a place to put a bucket is one thing, finding a place for equipment bigger than a garage is quite another. Plus, we are still in the throws of bringing in our crops. Juggling things around took on a whole new meaning. But we were happy to host this event.
The charity we belong to is called Food Resource Bank, a grassroots charity begun by farmers wanting to help other farmers around the world. The premise is to give 'a hand up, not a handout.' Our local group is supported by 24 churches. Everyone pitches in to help so all we really had to do was provide the place to hold our Harvest Celebration. It is a fundraiser and a praise time all mixed together.
We were told to expect 400-600 people! That meant we had to clear a field for parking, ideally a field close to the machine shed. Local FFA chapters would help direct traffic, while other groups would prepare the food for the free will luncheon and the many ministers worked on an uplifting service. Those who love to sing came together in the community choir and had practiced several times in order to be ready to perform that day. Other churches brought table decorations and donations to be raffled. Local entrepreneurs and a few 4H chapters brought animals for display. Others brought 'farm oriented' products like soap, wools, wheat weaving, cider pressing, straw making, to sell. Combine and tractor rides are usually a big hit for our urban friends. Cysdales were expected to arrive and be a part of the task of moving people via a wagonride pulled by those magnificent animals. A live band would play throughout the afternoon. The day-long festivities would end with the annual pie auction. Last year the pie auction brought in over $4,000!!!!
Set up was Friday afternoon. Dozens of folks showed up to set up tables and chairs, bring in supplies needed to feed so many. All was finally ready.
Saturday morning started out windy and fairly bright with low clouds looming closer every minute. By 9:00 a light drizzle started. The wind picked up. Disappointment hung on my heart. I still hoped all our efforts would not be for naught. If the rain could just hold back for a few hours. But wishing did not make it so.
Folks trickled in, then ran through the pouring rain to find shelter. They kept coming. I don't know what brought them out in such weather. We didn't reach the 600 mark, but over 300 folks showed up for the worship service in a shed in the pouring rain. The rain pelted down as we raised our voices up. We all laughed that in a drought season that had worried so many we should be rained out on the day of our Harvest Celebration. It reminded us all who is in control.
Combine rides were cancelled; the cysdales didn't leave their horse trailer but folks were not in a hurry to leave. In fact, more came for the lunch. Our numbers climbed to 400. The rain turned to drizzle. Animals came out of trailers so folks could pet them. The kiddie tractor pull took place, the pumpkin carving, a well as other activities while the praise band played. Over 200 stayed for the pie auction. Money was still made to support our cause.
The same folks that set things up, helped take everything down. The shed was cleared in less than an hour. The day felt like a fuzzy dream. But the pies on my table were a reminder of the commitment many had made to make this event meaningful. My feet hurt from standing and talking all day to people who beleived in the same cause as I do. Mud on the road told its own story about the hundreds of cars leaving our field and yard.
My family and I collapsed with a lasagna dinner we had prepared the day before. We ate pie for dessert. We laughed that the rain had only enhanced our message to our mission of helping others around the world who have struggled with drought for years. Farmers need rain to produce a good crop. We all need water to survive. And we learned how to host an event in the pouring rain.
Til next time ~
P.S. If it were not for our son, Nick, this event might never have had a chance to succeed. He cleared out our shed and made it look wonderful, all the while harvesting our crops. Thank you, son.