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Scarecrow fashion show benefits local food bank

October 03, 2009|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

WILLIAMSPORT -- Clothing drives are not a novel idea.

But the recipients of a yearlong clothing drive spearheaded by St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Williamsport were unusual.

They were not children, adults or even people at all.

They were scarecrows.

St. Andrew member Jeff Stearns headed up scarecrow-making Saturday at the annual Harvest Hoedown at Byron Memorial Park in Williamsport. Stearns said the congregation had been gathering clothes since last year's event.

"We start from the day we close up," Stearns said. "We accept donations of blue jeans, flannel shirts and all kinds of stuff for making the scarecrows."

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Though the clothes go to scarecrows, they indirectly benefit people who are in need in the Williamsport area. Hoedown attendees pay to make scarecrows, and all the proceeds go to the Williamsport Food Bank.

Families rooted through deep piles of belts, suspenders, hats and purses dreaming up quirky personalities for their scarecrows. They sat among bales of hay -- stuffing, tying and laughing as the scarecrows came together.

"People like the novelty of being able to make their own scarecrows. You see folks with kids, and it brings out the creativity of the kids," he said.

Becky Bradley of Falling Waters, W.Va., held up the stuffed creation of her granddaughter, Shelby Moats, 4, also of Falling Waters.

"(Shelby) says this is Jackson from Hannah Montana. I don't think it looks like him, but that's what she says," Bradley said, smiling.

Scarecrow-making was among many attractions at the hoedown. Bob Ardinger, 79, of Hagerstown, and his wife LaRue, 75, stood before the bandstand listening to the music of New Horizon Gospel Music. The band donated its service free of charge for the event. The Ardingers said they'd never been to the Harvest Hoedown before.

"I came out to hear these guys. I'm a bluegrass lover," Bob Ardinger said. "I think what they are doing here to raise money for the foodbank is real good."

Jim Wollard, 48, of Williamsport, stood along a chain-link fence playing purple cow patty bingo. He paid $10 for a patch of grass and stood waiting for a patty to drop.

"This is the longest time I've ever stood around staring at a cow's butt," Wollard said.

If things fell his way, though, Wollard said he would win either $250, $500 or $1,000.

"I would donate it back," he said, "because (the food bank) is a good cause."

Hilltop Stables provided horse rides, a petting zoo and horse-drawn wagon rides for a small fee. Mike Graff and Amy Morris, co-owners of the business, said they planned to donate all of their earnings to food bank.

"Why wouldn't we?" Mike Graff said. "Especially in this economy, why wouldn't anybody do whatever they can to help?"

Event coordinator Theresa Doub said the hoedown is a longstanding event -- around 15 years -- that has "grown significantly in the past few years." This year, there were more than 30 vendors and around 1,000 people attended. The Williamsport Ministerium, which includes churches in town, organizes the event each year to benefit the food bank.

Greg Martin, pastor at Zion Lutheran Church, said the number of families requesting assistance from the Williamsport food bank this year has doubled. He said the hoedown is "a display of unity" where churches and service groups of the town "pull together to do their part."

"The reason for this whole event is to support the food bank," Stearns said. "Especially in these times, when there are a lot of people in need, if we can have some fun and be able to supply some of what people need, that's a good thing."

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