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St. Francis Day of Service

by Kyra Connolly, Alvernia University

Oct 28, 2019

On Saturday, September 21, 2019, I had the opportunity to volunteer my time for the community; I went potato picking with other Alvernia students. Alvernia University is known for its love of community service and there are many opportunities for students to volunteer. This event is fantastic and helps people in need in and around the Reading area. On the IHartHarvest, Inc.- The Potato Project Facebook page, it states “I have been told, ‘I am an extraordinary individual…’” (Walt Zawaski, manages IHartHarvest, Inc.- The Potato Project).

On Saturday, with the help of many Alvernia students, we picked over 3,000 pounds of carrots and about 12,000 pounds of potatoes. We figured out by the end of the day, with all of our hard work, we were able to help approximately 6,000 people, that is about 2,000 families. Hearing those numbers at the end of the day was indeed the best part of the day. Being able to hear the results and put that into perspective made us feel more like a part of the group since we got the background of how much we helped.

Usually, when volunteering, we give our time and leave, which is excellent. However, hearing how much we helped gives us a sense of accomplishment. Being able to go to a university that is so concerned about community service in the first place is impressive. However, after the hard work, we get to hear the numbers and how much we were able to help, and it puts into perspective how much we can do. I liked this event for many reasons; however, one of the best parts was being able to have a treat while we were volunteering: fresh french fries. That’s right! We put aside a couple of the potatoes that we picked, and we had the freshest french fries ever. Right out of the ground, cleaned, peeled, chopped, and fried.

When we first got there, we started picking carrots. Jay Worrall, the head of the potato picking event, would drive his tractor up and down the field and would dig up all the carrots. All the students, ready with our crates to put the carrots in, would pick a spot, pull the carrots, break off the tops, rub off most of the dirt, and put the carrots into the crates. Once our section was orange free, we would move to the next section. If our crate was getting full, we would go over and dump the carrots into a big cardboard box. This is where Mr. Worrall and others would take them to be cleaned so they could be given to people in need.

Most students picked carrots for about the first hour and a half, then moved on to the potatoes. We repeated the same routine, Mr. Worrall would come through with his tractor, and students would pick all of the potatoes and fill the boxes. Throughout this time, the french fries were starting to be ready. The students would take turns having lunch while others kept picking. Once we got a few cardboard boxes filled with potatoes, some students moved over to the bagging station. This is where we would take mesh bags and fill them with the potatoes we had just picked. This would make it easier for them to be cleaned.

This was an amazing opportunity, and I am so glad that I was able to be a part of it. Realizing how individuals coming together can help people all over the community is an amazing experience. Cindy Matosky states, “Such a fantastic organization with neighbors helping neighbors!! Run by fantastic people. All harvested produce goes to local food banks.” This is a fantastic review to read because it proves how amazing and caring this nonprofit organization is. The sweat, dirt, and heat were all worth it. The outcome was great. We were able to come together as a school and community to help those in need. If you’re interested in this amazing event next year or any others coming up, check out the IHartHarvest, Inc Facebook page for more information!

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