Matt's great-aunt Pat started this event 30 years ago to raise money for world hunger. And during those past 30 years, the event in Lincoln has raised just over $2 million dollars. That's crazy! And this was the first year they broke $100,000 for the one day event! (More on that later.)
I had heard about it last year, and decided a long time ago that I wanted to go this year. So we loaded up the car (and I mean loaded) after work on Friday and set off for the five and a half hour drive across Missouri and in to Illinois. Turns out if I have unlimited room - as in a car - I bring way too much stuff. I think I had something like 3 bags and a blender? Too much for 48 hours??
In my defense, there is a giant box of chips to donate and an air mattress, pillows, and a blanket in that mess, too! Oh, and a car seat that didn't make the trip.
It was a pretty drive while it lasted, but it got dark so early! Eerily dark. There weren't any clouds in the sky, but we still couldn't see any stars. And there wasn't much traffic in the middle of nowhere Missouri, so it made for a pretty long, boring drive. We only stopped once at a rest stop on the highway outside of Springfield for a bathroom break, and eventually pulled in to Lincoln around 9pm.
First things first. Anywhere we go, I have to find the closest Wal-Mart (or grocery store) and get stuff for my morning smoothie. Hence the blender I had to bring. Well, Siri on our iPhones decided to take us to not one, but two phantom Wal-Marts. One being in the tiny town square, and one being out in the country. No joke. We did somehow find one on the edge of town. The opposite side that Siri took us to. I got my frozen berries and milk, and Matt didn't slit my throat. Success! ;)
We stayed at his late-grandmothers little old house in Lincoln -- that his grandpa built, I might add! And I had a surprise when I got there. Sweet Aunt Mimi made me a big fancy Halloween-ish headband with a purple sparkly spider on it! They had made a bunch of the random headbands to sell at the HOT, and saved one for me! Yay!
With all of the family visitors also in town, we got the air mattress and couch in the living room for the night. Better than Aunt Mimi. She got an tiny mattress on the kitchen floor!
Saturday morning, I was up and ready to go pretty early. (Too bad not everyone else in the house shared my enthusiasm.) I was SO excited to get down to the church and see what this Harvest of Talents thing was all about. Basically, from what I had gathered, it was kind of like a church bazaar. People from not just the local community, but from all over the US, make things (or just donate items) and give them to the church: hand carved wooden bowls, quilts, wooden benches, local jams, hats, scarves, cookies, purses, wreaths, ornaments, etc. Whatever they sell for is added up and donated to International Disaster Emergency Service (IDES) the next morning at the church service.
Since I am definitely not crafty or creative, I donated several items that I purchased internationally. A bag from Ethiopia, a basket one of the girls at the Think Humanity hostel made, tire sandals from Haiti, a necklace and bracelet from Nicaragua, an elephant from India... Just little random things that I thought might bring in a little money. Aunt Pat said they had a booth for items from around the world that she would stick my stuff at.
|Some of the things I donated|
By the time we got everyone around -- and had fresh cinnamon rolls right out of the oven -- we got down to the church just as some of the 5K finishers were coming across the finish line. I was wishing I would have done that race. After 26.2 miles (make that 27), I'm pretty sure I could just about sprint 3 miles! ;)
The cinnamon rolls we had for breakfast (left) and the race finish line (right)
Walking up to the church (left) and the giant cauldrons of soup they make (right)
Inside, we started making the rounds. There was so much to look at! And although it was still early, so much of the stuff was already gone! There was a line to get in the door at 7am, so by 9:30, it was picked over a little bit. No worries, though. I still got plenty of stuff! We loaded up a box with locally made jams and jellies and peanut butter - most of which was made by Matt's other great-Uncle/Aunt!
I got a hat and scarf and bowls made out of old records...who knows what else. It was SO fun! And I got lots of compliments on my headband! I'm pretty sure I sold a few of them by wearing mine!
|The fancy Halloween headbands on display!|
After lots of walking around and shopping, we stopped for lunch. We had a brisket sandwich and shared a walking taco...which Matt had never heard of. Unbelievable. ;) And when we were done eating, we had some time to kill. Back to the house for a quick power nap!
Where we ate lunch (left) and part of the auction stage (right)
The big event is the live auction later in the afternoon. I had my eye on several items up on the stage, one being a cool pink and purple hand-madebag. Turned out Matt's mom actually made it!
Most of the items brought in big bucks, which was so fun to see! I mean, quilts were going for thousands of dollars. No joke. And that little basket that Peninah made at the hostel for me in Uganda? TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS. I almost cried when it kept going up and people kept raising there numbers! I went and talked to the winner about it and she was so excited! Wow. I definitely will have to get some more of those for next year!
|It's item number 35!!|
My big purchase from the live auction was a "grab box" filled with random things that didn't sell that morning. There were two of them, and I was the winning bidder at $15. YES! I was so excited the auctioneer guy had to ask me to show him my number because I was fist-pumping from my big win! They brought the giant boxes over and Matt and I started excitedly digging through them. $15 was such a steal! I got a purple bird house, a big piece of fabric from India, a dog sweater, lots of homemade snacks, a couple of yard ornamentsm decorated fly swatters...just tons of fun stuff. The kicker was, the orange Paula Cole bracelet made in Haiti that I donated was the ONE thing I brought that didn't sell...and it ended up back in the box that I won! It was meant to be. :)
My other purchase from the live auction was not such a steal. $15 for a weird looking (and tasting)pumpkin pie? Oops. I wanted to bid one a hand-carved maple wood bowl, but it went waaay too high for me.
There was a cool necklace that said Harvest of Talents / 30 years / 1983-2013 on it. I thought it would be perfect for Aunt Pat to have, so it was decided that his mom would bid on it for her. Well, turned out Aunt Pat wanted it too -- and she actually started bidding against his mom who went to the other side of the room so she wouldn't know. I thought it was going to be a disaster -- both of them determined to win it -- but thankfully Aunt Pat gave up and Matt's mom got it to give to her later.
After the auction ended, we went back to the house to relax. Well, I went for a run and the boys relaxed. It was such a refreshing run. I love small towns. No traffic, everyone waves. Crisp autumn air and the colorful leaves under my feet as the sun went down...it was all just perfect!
I barely made it back in time to rinse off and throw some clothes on before we went to dinner at what seemed to be about the only nice place in town to eat: Guzzardo's Italian Villa. We had reservations, but turns out that doesn't matter. They just added us to the bottom of the wait list and we stood around for about 30 minutes. What the heck? Why take reservations??
Aunt Pat and a group of her friends were also there, so before our food came, we took the necklace over to surprise her. I took a video of it, and it was just the cutest thing ever. I almost cried, she was so happy and surprised! Click here to see the short video.
Anyways, the food was worth the wait. Well, the food was good, but the they have these things called "crispies" that are like pizza crust rolled up and coated in cinnamon and sugar. Ooohh myyy.... I think I single handedly ate at least 20 of them. No joke. They were too good to stop! And on top of that, the portion sizes for the entrees were ridiculous.
I was miserable from eating so much, and I had on my stupid tight jeans that don't stretch, so I was really paying the price. I just wanted to go back to the house and get in sweatpants, but we ended up at a second cousins house to watch Game 3 of the World Series -which turned out to have a crazy ending due to an interference call.
Sunday morning was the big church service. Aunt Pat had asked if Mat and I would participate by carrying flags in during the opening song. I got India and he got South Africa! I think we did okay - it wasn't too hard of a job. Carry the flags down on side, up the middle, and then stand in the front. The poor lady directing us was about to have a heart attack she was so full of anxiety about it, haha. I couldn't help but laugh. :)
Aunt Pat got up on stage to talk a little bit and to give the representative from IDES the check. $101,000!!! I cried. I couldn't help it. It was just such an awesome thing! I mean, this little old lady had an idea 30 years ago that has turned in to THIS! Two million dollars to help others in need, and she hasn't taken a single dime of it. Such an amazing and inspirational woman. :)
It was kind of a mad dash after church. We raced home, cleaned the house and did the dishes/laundry, packed up - which was a challenge with all of my extra purchases - and then hit the road. Well, before actually hitting the road, we stopped at a litttle Chinese place for lunch with Aunt Pat. Good food! And then we got on the road around 2:30 for the long drive back to KC.
|She's wearing her new necklace!|
It was a pretty drive again (until it got dark, anyways). We stopped once for dinner at Wendy's in Cameron, MO, and made it home just after 8pm. Plenty of time to un-pack and relax a little before the start of a new week. A busy week with birthdays and Halloween...
(Some pics I snapped on the drive home)
I had a great weekend in Lincoln, obviously. But I was sad to miss my adorable niece's 3rd birthday party on Saturdy! I think it's safe to say she didn't miss me with the big party she had and all the people around. She had a pinata an played pin the tail on the donkey, but made it clear that she did NOT want anyone to sing to her! Ha - she's such a riot sometimes. :)
|She's the one standing up in the back...|