Employees of Jackson County’s largest agribusiness have been feeding the world an egg at a time since the 1930s.
Few know it, but the 570-plus employees of Rose Acre Farms also have spent the past several years helping children in need at Christmastime.
“It started out several years back at the farm,” Rose Acre employee Kim Sanchez said. “We just decided we wanted to do something to help the kids.”
That meant finding an organization that helps children who aren’t as fortunate as most children, which in turn led Sanchez to the Sertoma Club of Jackson County.
Since at least 1972, members of the club and other volunteers have delivered donated toys to children in need on the morning of Christmas Eve each year.
“We just wanted to do something different than what other people do,” she said.
Most people donating to the program obtain an angel from an Angel Tree and purchase a gift for the child listed on the angel.
Sanchez said she asked one of the organizers at that time if anyone had ever provided bicycles for the program. He said no one had ever gone that far, she said.
So that year, Rose Acre employees started providing bicycles for Sertoma Christmas Miracle, and the program grows bigger with each passing year.
“This year, we were able to buy 55 bikes and raised $4,450,” Sanchez said.
That meant Rose Acre employees were able to provide a bicycle for every child who asked for one, she said. Sanchez and others actually do the shopping and try to buy the type and style of bicycle each child puts on his or her list.
“We want to get something that child is waiting for on Christmas Day,” she said.
In September each year, everyone starts asking about donating to the program.
“Everybody just looks forward to doing it,” Sanchez said.
That even includes employees of the companies that provide trucking services for Rose Acre Farms.
There also is generally money left over at the end of the year. So in 2016, a project was put in place to bring a little Christmas cheer to residents of local nursing homes who might have few or no family.
“Nobody wants to see a child go without something for Christmas as well as a resident of a nursing home who may not get a visitor all year long,” Sanchez said. “But just the thought of us coming in and giving them a simple gift and singing some songs made their day.”
There was some money left over that went to Seymour Police Department Officer Gilbert Carpenter and his family, who lost their house to a fire.
This year, four employees agreed to participate in a pie in the face competition by raising money for the cause. Those employees and the amount they raised were Jeff Ayers, $756; Joe Easton, $489, Chips Everhart, $433; and Mike McCory, $87.
The pie in the face competition was organized by Tim Lush and Amy Sheldon.
“It was kind of a way to have fun raising money,” Lush said.
That competition raised more than $1,870, and because more than $1,000 was raised, the company’s chief operating officer, Tony Wesner, agreed to take a pie in the face, too.
Excess funds from this year will be given to a family that recently lost their Vallonia home to a fire and to a family that might be in need of a little help, Lush said.
In the future, there might be some fundraisers put in place throughout the year to bring even more donations and help a few other people out, Sanchez said.
After the pie in the face event, Wesner told his employees he just loves them for their efforts to help others.
Wesner said he would be willing to take a pie in the face every day.
“If that’s what it takes to get people to give money to people who don’t have,” he said. “The only thing we’re going to leave in this life is what we do for somebody else. The world’s full of takers, and we need to be givers.”
HOW TO DONATE
Anyone who would like to donate to the Rose Acre Farms’ fundraisers to purchase bicycles for the Sertoma Club of Jackson County’s annual Christmas Miracle or to buy gifts for those in nursing homes, call the corporate office at 812-497-2557 and ask for Tim Lush or Amy Sheldon.