Not Just a Drop in the Bucket

By Jean Blish Siers *

Potato DropAnyone who has ever had a leaky roof knows that it takes a lot of drops to fill a bucket. At first, so little happens that it feels like all noise and no substance. But eventually, with enough rain, that bucket will be filled to overflowing. Sometimes we diminish things by saying, “Oh, that’s just a drop in the bucket!”

But drops can be spectacular! In my role as the Society of St. Andrew coordinator for the Charlotte area, I’ve overseen a few potato drops. Those are big, big drops! For the uninitiated, a potato drop involves a large parking lot, a tractor-trailer loaded with 40,000 pounds of either sweet potatoes or white potatoes in 2,000-pound pallets, and lots and lots of volunteers. Those volunteers sort and package and distribute all those potatoes, often in a single afternoon.

Potato DropRecently, a church in Charlotte, North Carolina hosted a potato drop following its Sunday worship service. They had a perfect day for it – sunny and in the 70s, with a little bit of a breeze. It was fun to see their eyes as the parishioners left their fellowship lunch and came face-to-face with the reality of more than twenty bins of potatoes, nearly as tall as many of them.

A potato drop is impressive. One potato at a time, one bag at a time, the potatoes get bagged. As they were sorted, we lined them up in ten rows of ten bags, with about ten pounds of potatoes per bag, so each parking space held about a half ton of spuds! People laughed and talked. A truck pulled in, was filled, and a cheer went up. A car pulled in, was crammed with so many potatoes that the back sagged, and a cheer went up.  More cheers rose as each of the 2,000-pound bins was emptied.

Each potato was a drop in the bucket. Each bag was a drop in the bucket. But it all added up! Within a few hours, all the potatoes were sorted and bagged. Trucks, vans, and cars with volunteer drivers came from seven counties, taking potatoes to soup kitchens, churches, food pantries, neighborhoods, refugee communities, and more.

Sometimes, doing this job, I can become discouraged. No matter how much food I get out into my community, there will still be hungry people. I feed a group one week, but what about the next? That’s what I ask myself every day. But a day like Sunday, in the sunny church parking lot, reminds me that every drop in every bucket makes a difference in someone’s life. And that’s never too small of an offering to make!

* Jean Blish Siers is SoSA’s Charlotte Area Gleaning Coordinator.


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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.

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