An Example in Volunteering

By Andy Lemmon *

Rev. Willie Petty and a volunteer.

Rev. Willie Petty and a volunteer prepare to send a pickup load of potatoes to a food pantry.

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.

Rev. Willie Petty

Rev. Willie Petty carries flats of blueberries to deliver to a food pantry.

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.



In the event I, or a registered family member, suffers any illness or accident requiring emergency hospitalization, medication, or other medical assistance while participating in a gleaning event, permission is given for any medical treatment which is deemed necessary and reasonable under the circumstances. I fully understand and comprehend that reasonable care will be exercised by the adult staff for this gleaning event to protect the safety of those involved. I understand that the field supervisor’s instructions must be followed at all times, and that I am responsible for any damages caused to fields, farms, or equipment by me/my family members not following these instructions.

Photos, videos, and other images in which I, or a registered family member, appear that are taken during gleanings may be used by the Society of St. Andrew for news coverage, newsletters, reports, displays, and for other print, broadcast, web, or electronic news or promotional purposes.

I do not hold the board, members, or employees of the Society of St. Andrew (SoSA,) or any volunteers liable for injury, bodily harm, accidents, or death of myself/my child during events sponsored by the Society of St. Andrew. Neither will I hold the person(s) who owns and/or operates the property from which we glean, salvage, or to which we deliver food, liable for accidents, injury, or death during the gleanings or other SoSA events.

For a PDF print version of this waiver, click here.

How the Story of the 12 Baskets is Connected to SoSA’s Name

Matthew 14:16-21

But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.

2 Kings 4:42-44

[…]the man of God […] said, “Give them to the people that they may eat.” His attendant said, “What, will I set this before a hundred men?” But he said, “Give them to the people that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left over.’” So he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.