Sharing the Harvest

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Nov 28, 2009

"Men are alike in their promises; only in their deeds do they differ."
Senator Andy Dinniman

With an average income of $96,000 making Chester County, PA, the wealthiest county in the state and the 23rd wealthiest county in the United States, people still go hungry here. And, Senator Andy Dinniman, State Senator of the 19th District for the past three years, cares about that hunger and has chosen to do something about it. 

With a twinkle in his eyes, Sen. Dinniman says there are four bones in the human body: the wishbone and those who have it are always wishing for something to be done but they never do it; the jawbone and those who have it are always talking about what needs to be done but they never get it done; the knucklebone and those who have it are always hitting people as they try to get others to act; and the backbone and those who have it are those who step up with courage and initiative and before you know it, they do it. 

If the problem is hunger in Chester County, Sen. Dinniman is an example of a person with backbone who has demonstrated great courage and initiative to do something about it. All of the nearly 400 guests who attended the "Sharing the Harvest" celebration here at Valley Forge Christian College on October 18, 2009 would certainly understand why I would say that. 

According to Sen. Dinniman, the purpose of "Sharing the Harvest" was four-fold: 

  • We need to increase our awareness of all human needs in Chester County, particularly food. Cuts to important programs at the Federal, State, and Local levels mean that people of faith and good will must step up to answer the call of those in need. Government can only do so much with its limited resources.
  • We need to plan and intensify our commitment to help meet the needs of our neighbors in tough times. It's up to us to enact meaningful change in our communities. And though we come from different religious traditions and backgrounds, as Americans this is a responsibility that we all share and one that we all understand.
  • We need to remind everyone to thank God for the 13 year long tradition of "Sharing the Harvest" during which time countless numbers of families have been blessed. Larry Welsch shared of just one initiative through the gleaning program which, since its beginning, has given 412 tons of produce to needy families. The gleaning program began in ancient Israel when farmers were told during the harvest to leave some produce in the fields for the poor.
  • We need to recognize all who work so hard to meet human needs. From the Chester County Food Bank to the West Chester Food Cupboard and from the Catholic Social Services (Coatesville and West Chester) to Chester County Futures, over 50 non-profit organizations were represented at "Sharing the Harvest."
The program was marked by solemn formality with a flag procession and pledge of allegiance by Chester County Sheriff Carolyn Welsh and her Ceremonial Unit but also with the festive celebration by the Grove UMC Praise Band. 

Dr. Mashar Tishi of the Islamic Society of Chester County brought a report of the Chester County Interfaith Gleaning Gardens. He described that both prayer and charity are among the main pillars of Islam: prayers to God and charity to each other. The Interfaith 
Gleaning Gardens are people of faith working together to grow food for their hungry neighbors. I want to learn more about that. 

Sen. Dinniman closed the event by saying, "We have many complex problems in our world but hunger is one that can be solved. Let's do something about it." 

Recently our athletes led a campus-wide initiative to collect food for the Phoenixville Area Community Services. Over 1000 cans of food were donated. What an appropriate demonstration of one of the core values of VFCC: we want to be good neighbors. 

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
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