Harvest of Talents in Fortville to help feed hungry people

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Two women at a leprosy colony in India hold food offered through a feeding program. An upcoming event in Fortville will raise money for feeding programs supported by International Disaster Emergency Service.

FORTVILLE — The baby boy, at 6 months, weighed nine pounds — what some children weigh at birth.

His mother would walk three hours to a weekly program that offered women milk for their babies, along with some training and a Bible study. Each week the babies were weighed.

The boy was not only malnourished, but also needed hernia surgery. Through contact with the milk program, his family found the nourishment and medical care he needed to thrive.

Now, at one and a half, “He’s a rambunctious little boy running around,” said Jeff Greene of International Disaster Emergency Service.

Feeding programs such as the one in Haiti that helped the baby boy are at the heart of Harvest of Talents, set for Sept. 9 at Fortville Christian Church.

It’s been 40 years since an Illinois laywoman was moved by a sermon about world hunger and started the event known as Harvest of Talents today. Greene is advancement director for IDES, headquartered in Noblesville, and said the Fortville congregation is one of six in Indiana and Illinois who will organize Harvest of Talents events this year.

“It takes a lot of work,” Greene said. “The churches that do this, like Fortville, they are so dedicated … they really work at it. They’re usually doing it all year long.”

IDES, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, responds to natural disasters globally, helping with means of shelter and emergency food packets. Wilkinson Church of Christ conducted a meal-packing event in February that resulted in meal packets for that purpose.

But in addition to its crisis response work, IDES also supports consistent feeding programs in Myanmar, Haiti, Tanzania, Kosovo, India, Guatemala and Kenya — working with 11 feeding program partners total in those seven countries. These programs help in situations such as children lacking access to consistent nutrition, and/or people in war-torn settings struggling to get out and buy food.

The food is usually bought in country, which promotes freshness, saves on shipping and stimulates the local economy. “It’s sort of a win-win,” Greene said.

The six churches who put on Harvest of Talents raise about $250,000 together to help feed hungry people around the world each year.

IDES staff are already funded by ministry supporters, so at Harvest of Talents, “100 percent of all the donations go to our hunger programs,” Greene said.

The name of the event comes from people offering their talents and abilities to raise money for the cause. A skilled gardener might offer jars of jam to the bazaar, for example, or an experienced woodworker might build something to sell. Or, a hair stylist might offer to exchange a haircut for a donation to feeding the hungry.

Brenda Ayers, who organizes the Fortville event, said people have been working on items to sell for months.

“We just kind of opened it up to the community and our church to make stuff,” she said.

She and other members of Fortville Christian used to go to IDES headquarters and help make items for other churches’ Harvest of Talents. But in 2017 they began having one themselves in Fortville. Last year’s event raised more than $20,000.

“We’re just so grateful for all the churches that respond this way…,” Greene said. “It is making an impact.”

HARVEST OF TALENTS

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 9

Where: Fortville Christian Church, 9450 N. County Road 200W, Fortville

What: bazaar featuring woodworking, crafts and other items; bake sale; used treasures market; classic car show; silent auction; breakfast and lunch

Why: All proceeds will support feeding programs through International Disaster Emergency Service.