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Sorghum Valley donations, attendance most ever

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Visitors to last weekend's Sorghum Valley event donated more than 3,000 canned goods to be divided among Matthew 25:40, the Union Mission and the Salvation Army.
A cold front, followed by a warm front caused this past weekend's weather to be anything but predictable as most of the weekend saw heavy rain at times as well as significant cloud cover. However, the poor weather did not deter area residents from visiting Christmas in Sorghum Valley. More than 5,000 people visited the old-town setting during the three-day event and brought with them a record number of donations to support a variety of organizations in the community.

"We had a record number of people come this year," said Ann Anderson, a member of the Dyer County Fair board that sponsors the Christmas in Sorghum Valley event. "It was an all-time five-year high."

Christmas in Sorghum Valley allows for area residents to come and have an enjoyable evening with a number of free amenities including hot chocolate, popcorn, pictures with Santa and of course Christmas music. According to Anderson, this is a simple way the fair board can show its appreciation to the community for the support it receives during fair week.

"This is a good, safe family place for people to gather," added Aleece Jackson, also a member of the fair board. "We do this every year so we can give back to the community."

And the fair board has been able to give back in a record way.

The event collected almost 3,500 canned goods as well as other non-perishable items that were divided between Matthew 25:40, the Union Mission and the Salvation Army. During the current economic strain that some families are facing, the donations mean the world to the organizations.

"This wonderful event is yet another (example of) how we come together when there are so many that are in need," said Matthew 25:40 Executive Director Amy McDonald.

Representatives from the State Gazette, the Salvation Army, Trimble Lions Club, Matthew 25:40, Union Mission, the Dyersburg/Dyer County Humane Society and the fair board show all the donations made by the community during the Sorghum Valley event this past weekend. From left, Joy Moore, David Butler (sitting), Jason Cannon, Esther Hugueley, Amy McDonald, Nina Bradford, Ann Anderson, Aleece Jackson and Derrick Avery.
Esther Hugueley came on Tuesday afternoon to collect the Union Mission's donations and was overwhelmed by the volume. She says that the federal government's change in food stamp disbursements earlier this year affected families more than expected and many have a great need this holiday season.

"A donation like this allows us to fill our pantry and we know that if there is a family in need, we will have the goods there for them," said Hugueley, who says that the food will also be used in the mission's community café. "We are so appreciative of all the volunteers that helped coordinate the event and of all the individuals who donated items."

In addition to food donations, 76 coats were collected for the State Gazette's Coats for Kids program. The coats will make a nice addition to the State Gazette's coat closet to accommodate children of many different sizes.

"Due to the generosity of people in the community many kids will not have to go cold this winter because they don't have a winter coat," said State Gazette Publisher Shelia Rouse. "We appreciate all of the donations received through the Christmas in Sorghum Valley event and thank the community for coming together and helping in such a meaningful way."

David Butler of the Trimble Lion's Club was also present on Tuesday afternoon to accept a donation of 73 pairs of eyeglasses that will now be sent to the Southern College of Optometry for distribution on mission trips to third-world countries like Haiti.

Not to be forgotten, our favorite four-legged pals also received their fair share of donations as more than 200 pounds of dry dog food was sent to the Dyersburg/Dyer County Humane Society as well as canned food, treats, blankets and stuffed animals for shelter pets to play with.

"These donations mean the world to us," said humane society board member Nina Bradford. "These donations help us keep our doors open. We require all sorts of supplies to keep the animals healthy and happy. We are so appreciative of all the donations we received through the Christmas in Sorghum Valley event."

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