By Andy Lemmon *
Rev. Willie Petty and his wife, CeeCee, began volunteering with the Society of St. Andrew by gleaning fields and picking up excess produce at warehouses. This is where most volunteers start, and where many people find it easiest to be involved.
Eventually, the Pettys became field supervisors, leading others by demonstrating proper field safety and field etiquette. They would turn a group of new volunteers into a well-trained team that could make quick work of gleaning that field.
Although Willie is a full-time pastor in Caledonia, Mississippi, he has now joined our staff, part-time, as SoSA’s gleaning contact for North Mississippi. When there is food available at farms and warehouses in the region, he’s the man who coordinates farmers, volunteers, and feeding agencies so food can be collected and distributed to those who need it most.
Willie Petty’s involvement continues to grow. And yet there are ways to volunteer that don’t involve picking produce in the hot sun. There are senior citizens in Rev. Petty’s community who sometimes receive food from his church’s feeding program and also help sort and give away food to others in the community. At one of these events, Petty saw a woman approaching “in a hurry.” She had raised $60 in spare change from various sources in the community and wanted to make sure and get it to him quickly to help our gleaning efforts.
Willie Petty went from a volunteer gleaner, to a field supervisor, to coordinating efforts over a large region of the state. CeeCee Petty helps coordinates events and promotes their efforts on social media. And members of their church community collect spare change to help fund the mission. There is a role for everyone to get involved. No effort of support is too small to help change someone’s life.
* Andy Lemmon is SoSA’s Program Coordinator for Mississippi and Arkansas. This story is from our quarterly newsletter. You can SIGN UP to receive the newsletter and other SoSA publications.