Working Together with Unarmed Truth

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality … I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

– The Reverend Martin Luther King

Gleaner Robert Brown with Charlotte coordinator Jean Siers

Gleaner Robert Brown with Charlotte coordinator Jean Siers

By Jean Blish Siers *

Since the tragic attack at Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, there has been a lot of talk about what separates us – skin color, symbols, flags, history. One thing I like about working for Society of St. Andrew is our knowledge of what unites us: a passion for feeding our hungry neighbors, whoever they are.

My area has a stable of regular volunteers, those who supervise field gleanings, show up consistently to pick in the hot sun, and folks who distribute, driving trucks long distances to pick up loads of tomatoes, watermelons, corn, and turnips, to name a few of the things we haul.  We are a diverse group: black, white, Asian; young and not so young; white-collar, and blue-collar.

And I am blessed to work with people who are dedicated to making sure that food gets to people who need it. Some of those folks work at larger, well-established ministries here in the Charlotte area. Others are volunteers who package the produce into usable sizes – a few tomatoes, a half-dozen ears of corn, a bag of sweet potatoes – and go door to door, stopping to visit shut-ins and folks who they know need a hand. A Jewish woman runs a ministry we supply regularly, ensuring Burmese refugees get fresh food. One of my drivers, an older African-American, regularly takes food to a Hispanic congregation in his area.

That’s what connects us: our understanding that no one should be hungry in a land of plenty. We know that whatever our skin color, whatever our family’s history, what matters is how we treat each other right now.

Not long after that horrible day in Charleston, I supervised a corn gleaning. It was a hot but lovely morning, as the volunteers gathered by the farmer’s produce stand. One of my most dedicated volunteers got out of his truck and we realized we were wearing matching Society of St. Andrew shirts. Flying the same flag. On the same side. It was an exceptionally nice moment.

With our hands and our feet, our buckets and our bags and our trucks, we work together to show Martin Luther King’s unarmed truth and unconditional love every day.

* Jean Blish Siers is SoSA’s Charlotte Area Gleaning Coordinator, and a regular contributor to this News & Events blog.



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.