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Hoe Down scares up money for food bank

October 05, 2008|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

WILLIAMSPORT - It was an unconventional baby-sitting job to say the least.

Volunteers from St. Andrew Presbyterian Church looked after charges who had undeniably unique personalities. Yet they appeared to be content lying flat on their backs, sprawled across the grassy hill at Byron Memorial Park, staring wide-eyed at the clear blue sky looking, well, brainless. Katelynn's toothless smile never wavered, and Billy Bob lay still even as Scary Harry's arm roosted haphazardly across his brow.

Eventually, families would stop by the roped-off baby-sitting area, check name tags to verify their own, then sling their issues over the shoulder by the necktie as the baby sitters waved goodbye.

The scarecrow baby-sitting service was a part of the Williamsport Harvest Hoe Down Saturday, an annual fundraiser for the Williamsport Community Food Bank. The event featured live musical entertainment, pumpkin painting, craft and food vendors, and perhaps most popular, scarecrow making.

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The Rev. Mark Sandell of St. Andrew Presbyterian Church is president of the Williamsport Area Ministerium, a group of churches that run the food bank.

"People used to say, 'I don't want to make (a scarecrow) now because I want to walk around and do other stuff.' So we started to offer scarecrow baby-sitting," Sandell said. "It's a bunch of good fun."

Families made their way through efficiently organized lines, picking up nylon and hay-crafted assemblies and felt face kits, then picking out pants, shirts, hats, neckties, belts, patches and even pocketbooks.

Sandell said St. Andrew's volunteers have perfected the logistics of scarecrow making over the years. The crafting area was separated into four quadrants, with volunteers to provide assistance in each. Seated among bales of hay, families worked together stuffing, tying, gluing and shouting with excitement.

Bailley Miller, 12, of Williamsport, dressed her scarecrow, Billy Bob, in hip designer jeans and a mauve button down.

"When I found the pants, I told my mom, 'Oh, these are Sean John. These are, like, expensive jeans,'" Miller said.

She said Billy Bob would embellish her family's porch.

Sandell said the hoe down is a "festive, old-time community" effort to help people in the Williamsport area who are struggling financially.

"The increase in need has been tremendous this last year," he said.

Pastor Greg Martin of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church said he hoped the event would raise between $10,000 and $12,000. Because it receives unexpected contributions of money and canned goods throughout the year, Martin said the food bank does not have a set budget.

"We have a faith budget. When we have a need, we make it known. Residents and businesses in the community seem to step up. We've never turned anyone away," Martin said. "It's really neat. When we run behind, God does wondrous things."

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