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.
“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.
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.
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’.