These Boots (and Hands) Are Made for Gleaning!

By Jean Blish Siers *

A glorious array of boots.

The best remedy I know for dealing with the news these days is getting away from my iPad and into a field. At a time when America and the world feels increasingly divided, unable, or unwilling to understand the feelings, needs, thoughts, or dreams of our neighbors, working together to benefit someone else has a surprisingly calming affect.

Last week, we gleaned grapes at Pastor Larry’s Prayer Vineyard. Pastor Larry serves a large church in the suburban area north of Charlotte, and he and his father planted the vines several years ago. His father, who recently passed away, was a viticulturist, which is a fancy word for grape grower. Larry says, when he’s in the vineyard, he can still feel his father’s presence, and it’s a peaceful place.

I agree. In the distance, roosters crow and hawks call. Bees buzz in the vines, sampling the produce, but pretty much leaving us alone. Once a week, we go out with a dozen or so gleaners to pick the muscadines as they ripen. The sweet grapes scent the air, which smells divine in the autumn sunshine.

At the field last week, long-time volunteer Arlene arrived with spiffy new boots, a rich red with happy chickens on them. And her daughter, Rachel, pulled on her boots – blue with cows. Then Roslyn, who has gleaned with us for years, tugged on her boots, in a snazzy zebra stripe. I’ve worn the same pink polka dot boots to every gleaning for the past five years. It struck me how different our boots were, and in many ways how different we were, and yet we were all there for the same reason.

Jean, Roslyn, Rachel, and Arlene

Arlene and Rachel are Jewish and were delighted to come out and glean grapes on Rosh Hashanah. “We’re starting the new year right,” Arlene said. Arlene and Rachel took the grapes they picked (supplemented by gleaners from a local Presbyterian Church) to Angels and Sparrows Soup Kitchen, a ministry attached to a different Presbyterian Church.

Roslyn attends a Missionary Baptist Church in a neighboring county. She was taking grapes to seniors and shut-ins in her community, but she is also one of my regular drivers, delivering good to a refugee group in Charlotte, helping our newest neighbors know they are not alone.

It was a teacher workday for our local schools, and a couple gleaners brought their grandchildren, who worked hard in the hot sun, proud of every bucket they filled.

That day we were black and white, Christian and Jew, young and not-so-young. I don’t pretend to know – or want to know – the political beliefs of anyone out there. For those two hours, none of that matters. We all have a common goal of feeding our neighbors. Our boots and our hands are made for gleaning, and that’s just what they’ll do!

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



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.