The Ottumwa Courier

December 2, 2013

Potatoes by the pound

Courier staff writer

---- — OLLIE — Whether mashed, baked or diced, holiday meals just wouldn’t be the same without some form of potato dish.

Thanks to the combined efforts of the Prairie View United Methodist Church Men of Ollie; the Pekin Ministerial Association; the Mobile United Methodist Missionaries; and the Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church Missions Committee, there will be plenty of potatoes available this holiday season for many local organizations.

On Friday and Saturday, Nov. 22 and 23, a semi load totaling 40,000 pounds of potatoes were given to 38 different food banks, churches and other southeast Iowa organizations for the annual Potato Drop. The United Methodist Churches in Agency, Batavia, Eldon and Hedrick, as well as the Salvation Army, Oskaloosa Food Bank and Fairfield Lord’s Cupboard, were some of the many groups that left with a heaping amount of spuds.

The event was held this year for the eighth time in the last nine years. Despite chilly temperatures, the overall event was a success, according to Bill Anderson, of Richland, who was one of the many volunteers.

“It was probably as cold as it’s been in eight years,” he said. “It went really well.”

A local trucker and member of the Prairie View United Methodist Church brought the load of potatoes all the way from Stevens Point, Wis, more than 300 miles.

On Friday, the first drop-off location was the Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church. There volunteers unloaded 12,000 pounds of potatoes, with the remaining 28,000 pounds being distributed the next day at the Prairie View UMC.

According to Anderson, there were about 20 volunteers helping to dispense the potatoes to the groups. The spuds came in 10-pound bags and were unloaded from the semi straight to the waiting vehicles of each organization.

What was even more special about the event is that the groups were not charged for the potatoes. The entire cost of bagging and transporting the potatoes were covered thanks to donations by local churches, individuals, businesses and other organizations. The time and equipment for shipping was also provided by the local truck driver.

“It’s not cheap to take a semi 300 miles these days,” Anderson said.

— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh