They was taters everwhere — 48,000 pounds of loose sweet potatoes in all, dumped right in the front yard of the church Sunday morning while it was still dark outside.
But the good people at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Woodbridge pitched in and bagged all of the loose sweet potatoes before the 11 a.m. service started.
“There were people on the piles the whole time the 8 a.m. service was going on,” said Mike Wilson, church out reach coordinator.
“They were like ants on the piles,” Wilson said of the Methodists who attacked the potato heaps with orange, netted produce bags.
Once the potatoes were bagged, church members piled the 10- to 15-pound bags at the shoulder of G Street and waited for area food banks and charities send trucks to haul the potatoes away.
They held an 11 a.m. worship service outside in folding chairs, while they waited for the trucks from Action in the Community Through Service, Securing Emergency Resources Through Volunteer Efforts, and a number of area churches which maintain food pantries.
Pastor Larry Thompson told his congregation that the members of a sister church in N.C. gathered the potatoes from fields where they were left to spoil.
The sweet pototoes did not meet visual standards for retail sales, Thompson said.
But other than being a bit uglier, smaller or bigger or that an average sweet potato, Thompson said, they were fine for eating if not for selling.
Thompson read from the New Testament book of Mark and retold the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 whie the congregants waited for the trucks to come by.
When a truck arrived, several dozen people peeled off from the service, formed a bucket brigade and loaded the truck forthwith.
Susie Schurtz, of SERVE of Manassas, said the potatoes came along at just about the right time.
“I don’t know why, but this year, it seems like some of the shelves are a little low,” she said.
“These will be great.” she said of the potatoes. “We have so many people who come in.”
“During the holiday season, it’ll pick up, but what we need to get through to people is that hunger knows no season,” said Schurtz who works in the food warehouse at SERVE.
Robert Collins said he didn’t think too much about potatoes even though he’d moved tons around the church yard in a wheel barrow most of Sunday morning.
“I’m just here to do the work,” said the 11-year-old, Evangel Christian School 5th grader during a break in the action.