What is in this article?:
- Acres of Help â€“ ageless acts of kindness in modern world
- Biblical concept of gleaning
- Christmas gifts for children
Arkansas farmers and agribusinesses join forces to be sure their hungry, needy neighbors through Acres of Help charity, built on the biblical concept of gleaning.
MEMBERS OF the Acres of Help charity are, from left, Brad Chambless, Farmers & Merchants Bank; Barry Wilson, owner, Wil-Co Flying Service; farmer Drew Whiting; farmer Keith Patterson; Pastor Chad Philipp; and Kirk Vansandt, Farmers & Merchants Bank.
Biblical concept of gleaning
The most creative aspect of Acres of Help is that it modernizes the biblical message of gleaning. In ancient times, farmers left sheaths of grain or parts of a field unharvested for the poor. For this charity, farmers fill out a pledge card to donate the revenue from one acre of land or more to Acres of Help. The charity then allocates the monies to local charities, which then distribute food and other items to those in need.
The pledge card is preprinted with pledge amounts based on an average yield and price. For example, the revenue from an acre of corn for the second fundraiser was $1,000, based on a 200-bushel yield and a $5 corn price. In turn, Acres of Help pledges to give all its net revenue to local charities.
Morton had no idea the charity would be so successful. “I thought our first banquet might raise $20,000 to $25,000. I was amazed when we walked out with over $120,000 that night.”
The structure of the charity means it doesn’t decide who is helped, giving that responsibility to local groups. “We try to stay one level removed from the end user. We don’t want them to know who we are,” said Chambless.
While active for only two years, Acres of Help has already helped dozens of charities in south Arkansas County feed hungry citizens, provide shoes and clothing to children, backpacks of food for schoolchildren to take home on weekends and much more.
“Everything they’re doing has been a blessing for us,” said Ron Knowlton, who with his wife Carolyn are county coordinators of The Call, (Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime). The charity recruits foster homes for foster children in the county.
“Acres of Help gives us the means to help foster children and those families who are willing to help a child in need,” Knowlton said. “In return, we see our local country foster children receiving a good, Christian foster care home.”
The CALL’s outreach has grown considerably over the last few years, and at least a portion of the credit goes to Acres of Help. “Three years ago, Arkansas County had two foster homes and 50 children in foster care,” Knowlton said. “The children here in Arkansas Country were being sent to Fort Smith, Jonesboro and Monticello. They were leaving their school, their friends. Over the last few years, we’ve seen 11 new Christian foster homes open up.”