Garden proves a blessing to Plum food pantry
By Karen Zapf
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, 8:54 p.m.
Gardening is one of Abby Kraeer's favorite activities.
Kraeer, 15, each summer enjoys tending to the tomatoes, green peppers and herbs in her family's garden at their home in the Holiday Park section of Plum.
Kraeer, a member of the Senior Youth Faith Formation class at Our Lady of Joy Catholic Church in Plum, combined her love of gardening and her desire to help others in a project that benefited the Plum Food Pantry.
The Senior Youth Faith Formation Class is a religious-education program for high-school students.
The youth group members, under the direction of Kraeer, in May planted “God's Garden” on the church grounds.
“I love gardening, and I wanted to figure out a way to put it into something to help others,” said Kraeer, who formerly volunteered at the Plum Food Pantry that is located in the Holiday Park United Methodist Church.
The garden consisted of cherry tomatoes, green peppers, zucchini and green beans.
“It was a slow start,” Kraeer said. “Everything was dying and wilting.”
A pivotal event turned around the garden's fortune, Kraeer said.
The garden began to prosper after the Rev. Al Zapf, church pastor, conducted a “blessing of the garden.”
“It was gynormous,” Kraeer said.
The youth group members harvested the vegetables, and Kraeer went about planning a soup-and-sandwich luncheon at the church Oct. 14.
The vegetables were blended into a soup that was served to those who attended the event.
Participants gave donations and received a jar of soup to take home.
Kraeer and other group members presented the proceeds from the soup/sandwich luncheon – about $260 – to the food pantry Oct. 16.
Food pantry director Joe Utterback said he is grateful for the work that went into the project and the donation.
“The work done by the youth group is fantastic,” said Utterback of Plum.
“I think it's absolutely fantastic. And Abby is a great kid.”
Utterback said the money will be used to stock the pantry with supplies, particularly for the Thanksgiving dinner food distribution.
Jane Siatkosky, religious education coordinator at Our Lady of Joy, said she is impressed with Kraeer's initiative and perseverance.
“It was an expression of her heart filled with care for other people,” Siatkosky said.
Kraeer credits Siatkosky with supporting her endeavor.
“(Siatkosky) jumped on the wagon right away,” Kraeer said.
Kraeer said she plans bigger and better things next summer.
“I'm going to expand the garden next year,” she said.
“I don't know how big it will turn into. But I want to keep giving to the Plum Food Pantry and open it up to other causes.”
Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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