This Year's Project

The focus of this year's special project at the concluding Peach Cobbler Mennonite Relief Auction backs a program to bring fresh water to desert schools in Jordan.  The 'Green Schools' project restores broken and dilapidated water systems that have left many schools thirsty and demoralized in a country that ranks amongst the most water-poor nations in the world.

The refurbished pipes, fixtures, tanks and cisterns not only breath fresh life into the young student body, but also permit the planting of trees and gardens on the school grounds making their corner of the desert bloom a little.

 

Macon County Businessman Loves Race Track, Brings Faith, Passion to Charity Auction

Talk a while with Merle Diem Jr. and two passions begin to peek out from behind a broad, composed face.  Neither ‘earn him a lick’. That living once came from the Macon County Tire and Service and now from a trucking firm. But his two passions cost him dear.  


The first is the rush that comes from speed and power at the races.  For years he’s competed at tracks around the Southeast. It’s not about the winnings. It’s something about the burning rubber, the blur of the curves, the kick of the wheel, about hot engines revving at limit, the roar of straight pipes and of the crowd in the stands.  ’Now,’ he says as he gazes out the window, ‘I’m getting a little old for that stuff. Mostly I’m on the pit crew.’ But the hunger for excitement is in the family genes. His sons, Dustin and Chandler, who now manage the tire shop, are at the wheel on race nights, something they pursue with a father’s blessing – and a touch of envy.


Come Saturday, September 14th, Merle will not be in victory lane or even the track pit.  His other great passion will be on display at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry. This, too, is a passion charged with excitement, but of a very different kind.   He’ll be lead auctioneer at the Peach Cobbler Mennonite Relief Auction, something he’s relished doing for its entire 20-year history. While there will not be the acrid smell of rubber, the roar of engines, or a checkered flag, there will be speed as rival bidders pursue single-mindedly the handstitched quilts, the antique furniture and the collectibles.  The ricochet of bidding builds with gasps from the crowd as prices ratchet upward followed by bursts of applause when the hammer comes down. All of that begins with the 9 AM ritual auction of a classic peach cobbler to launch the event, a much-anticipated moment that sometimes attracts bids, for love of the cause, as high as $1000.


Merle’s passion for auction goes back to a time when he was a youngster at his grandmother’s estate sale in Pennsylvania.  He stood in the crowd watching the action, listening to the rhythm of the auctioneer and the shouts of bidders and spotters.  There came a moment that clinched something like a calling. The auctioneer spotted Merle, his boyish interest in what was happening, and called, “Sonny, ya wanna sell the rug?”  Merle walked through this open door, took the stage, and in a maiden performance auctioned his grandma’s rug to the delight of the crowd. He had found his bliss. 


  Fast forward forty years.  There may not be an estate rug on sale this year, but the Peach Cobbler Mennonite Auction is all for a good cause.  This year the proceeds go toward bringing safe drinking water to school children in the thirsty Middle East. At other times, the sale has benefitted literacy and micro-enterprise programs, refugees, victims of storms, floods and war, as well as recovery from trauma.  In two decades, the sale has raised over $500,000 to meet such global needs. And Merle’s voice has moved that purpose forward every year with verve and passion, often together with his wife Marlene, noted caterer and restaurant owner. This year will be the resounding conclusion of a 20-year auction tradition that has brought together Mennonites from across the region with a host of community participants.  Keep your eyes peeled. There may well be a girl or boy in the crowd who meets with destiny in this rousing, family event! And the result will make a difference for good, the sweetest victory lane of all.

Trauma Recovery Around the World

Trauma Recovery Around the World

Nearly every week brings headlines of some disaster, natural or man-made, to our notice: typhoons, floods, earthquakes, civil war, school shootings, drought, tornados, and famine.  The physical effects  left by these terrible events are plain to see and brought in disturbing detail to our living rooms.  Think of Puerto Rico, of Yemen and Syria, of Parkland (FL), of the South Sudan and of refugee camps across the planet.  But when the clean-up has been done, lives reassembled, wounds healed, power and water restored, there is invisible wreckage that remains.  The terror, the sense of helplessness, the cruelties and deprivation suffered, leave victims traumatized long after the crisis is past, haunting days and nights, gnawing at human bonds and destroying the peace of communities.

2017 Press Release

2017 Press Release

“What’s a Peach Cobbler Mennonite Relief Auction?” Take one part high energy country auction.  Add two parts of classic handcrafted quilts and a generous dollop of home cooking. Throw in a barn-full of fun-loving, good-hearted folks with a touch of four-part harmony all intended to meet the world’s most urgent human needs – and, presto! There you have the recipe of what happens Sept. 16-17 in Perry at the Georgia National Fairgrounds, I-75 Exit 135 in Perry, Georgia.  The cherry on the top is that entry is free, and all are welcome.

Relief sales are unique celebratory auctions organized by Mennonites across the United States and Canada to raise funds for people in need around the world.  All items for sale at the auction are donated and sold to benefit Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), a worldwide ministry of Anabaptist churches that responds to basic human needs and works for peace and justice.  The sale also benefits Christian Aid Ministries, a similar relief organization of the Amish and Mennonites.

2016 Press Release

2016 Press Release

The “Special Giving Project” at the Peach Cobbler Relief Sale will be clean water. Around the world, one in 10 people don’t have access to clean, safe water. Women and girls spend hours every day walking to collect water to drink or use for cooking and washing. And farmers lose crops when they can’t access water for irrigation. MCC works with local partners to make sure people have access to clean water closer to their homes, both today and in the future. This includes projects such as: constructing systems for collecting rainwater, digging wells and building dams for drinking or irrigation, training people to construct and maintain water pumps, and teaching sanitation and hygiene practices.

Lee Family Vacation to the Mennonite Relief Auction

Lee Family Vacation to the Mennonite Relief Auction

Every year in mid-September, a remarkable family threesome appears early at the Peach Cobbler Mennonite Relief Sale, taking their seats in the very front row of the Perry fairgrounds hall, auction number at the ready.  A grandfather, a mother and her teenage son have already scanned the quilts, the antiques, the tables of model tractors, tools and knick-knacks. What sets them apart is that the savvy bidder, the one who holds the all-powerful auction number, is the teenager, Allan Lee.  His grandfather, John William ‘Billy’ Gray, and Allan’s mother, Amanda Lee, who live together on the northern edge of Perry, may whisper encouragement or counsel, but it’s Allan who’s in charge having a discerning eye for interior decoration, a love of world globes, old manual typewriters and cash registers, given his fascination for ‘buttons’.