GIBSON — Members of St. John’s United Methodist Church and volunteers pitched in this week to help prepare food for the church’s 84th Annual Harvest Day.
The event planned for Thursday will include barbecue and chicken salad plates sold from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Plates are $8 each for eat in or carry out and drive through service will be available.
Barbecue plates will include sides of cole slaw, hush puppies, sweet potatoes, and cake.
Chicken salad plates will come with lettuce, an apple ring, bread, crackers chips and dessert. Tea, water and coffee will also be available.
For Jane Hinson, along with her sister Kathy Murphy, who has helped with the Harvest Day event for about 16 years, keeping a list of what’s needed for shopping is her main priority.
“My favorite aspect of Harvest Day is that we get to visit and have a good time — the church seems more like a family,” Murphy said.
Hinson said that each year, the money received at the annual event goes toward the maintenance and up-keeping of the church.
What sets this event apart from other churches plate sales is “the long tradition and how long it has been going on,” organizers said.
The event started when farmers would donate a certain number of their crops, a pig or chickens to the church to prepare and raise money by selling plates. Although the event is now largely carried on by church members pledging to purchase a certain amount of meat and vegetables, the spirit of its founding lives on.
Harvest Day is a holdover from the days when St. John had a large congregation. Current membership averages around 50 to 60 people, but the church still has the event thanks to the help of volunteers from former church members and others who had or still have family who attend.
“Donations of time and products make this a success for us,” said Hinson. “If it wasn’t for people that come and help, it would make it hard for us. Volunteers allow us to continue.”
Hinson and fellow church members have been in charge of preparing batches of sweet potatoes for this year’s plates.
This included peeling the sweet potatoes fresh out of the boiler, slicing them up and letting them soak in a homemade syrup. From there the potatoes were frozen and then cooked again for Thursday and covered in more syrup.
The sweet potatoes were donatedand on Monday church members boiled and peeled approximately 600 pounds of them.
Cheryl Kirk is a Gibson native whose mother, Eugenia Odom still attends St. Johns. Kirk comes home to visit her mother and give her time to help with Harvest Day.
“I do it because my mom is here and they still consider me a member,” Kirk said
All of the food that isn’t sold will be saved for a welcome table dinner which the St. Johns United Methodist Church puts on every second Tuesday of the month.
The event is free for all and the church welcomes those in need to enjoy a homemade meal as well as members of the church and anyone else how would like to come for dinner,” according to Hinson.
St. John United Methodist Church is located at 7700 Gibson Road, off N.C. 79.
Reach Scott Witten at 910-506-3o23.