Kansans mark final Bishop’s Roundup Against Hunger
Just as they’ve done for four decades, youth and adults gathered at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in Lawrence on Nov. 18, taking donations and helping feed a need in the community.
But the 40th Bishop’s Roundup Against Hunger was also its last, at least in its familiar form.
The Rev. Shirley Edgerton, a retired United Methodist pastor from Topeka, said two reasons brought the event to a close. One, many individual churches were involved in their own food pantries, and an area-wide drive proved counterproductive.
“There’s no reason to have that middleman,” Edgerton told those gathered for a worship service following the collection, later adding, “We’re kind of doing what other people are doing.”
The second reason, Edgerton said, was encouragement from Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. to have more Great Plains Conference-wide events, rather than continue events from its three former conferences.
The worship service, inside one of the fairgrounds buildings, provided an impromptu chance to reminisce for those gathered. The roundup was given its name and Western theme, Edgerton said, from former Kansas East Bishop Ernest T. Dixon Jr., a Texas native known for his cowboy hats.
Former volunteers told of having to stomp empty plastic milk jugs in the snow when a crusher wouldn’t work, and they spoke of a former component of donations for animals for Heifer International that brought pigs, rabbits and chickens to the fairgrounds.
Besides donations of nonperishable food and personal care items, churches in the area raised $238,216.20 to help the homeless in the area.
“At times when the group got smaller, the money did not,” Edgerton said.
Edgerton said the final day of the final Roundup was bittersweet for her, especially when she was among those serving communion, and people asked if she remembered them from one project or another related to the drive.
“The 40 years we’ve been involved here has changed our lives,” she said. “We’ve been to Africa, to Mexico, to Guatemala and to Haiti numerous times, taking teams. We got to know a lot of people.”
The most tumultuous time, Edgerton said, was when an earthquake hit Haiti while she and a team were still there – what she calls now a “blessing.”
“I’d have died if I hadn’t have been there to help take care of my friends,” she said.
Those involved can still do so in other ways, Edgerton said. Fundraising and items collected will now go to the UMCOR Sager-Brown Depot in Louisiana.
Just because the Bishop’s Roundup Against Hunger has run its course, she said, “that doesn’t mean there aren’t other things we can do.”