News and Events

The First Newsletter of 2019!

How in the world have three months already gone by?

Dear Friends and Family,

It is hard to believe that it is the end of March. What a busy time it has been around The Lord’s Harvest. We continue to serve “the least of these” through 15 different partner agencies and churches. We are currently serving 1,700 families with potatoes, pinto beans, rice, cornmeal and onions. We are also serving 450 families with staple food boxes. The relationships that we have built through food deliveries is such a blessing to us personally and we believe we are also planting seeds for the kingdom of God. What we are able to do is incredible and we give thanks for the strength to do what we do and for the opportunity to do this work unto the Lord!

We were honored to be interviewed by US World News and Report in February. The story was published online on March 26 and is entitled “Achieving Health in Appalachia.” We are humbled to have been included in the special report. Towards the end of the article contributor, Haisten Willis wrote: “The county also is home to impactful charities such as The Lord’s Harvest, an initiative run by Bill and Sharon Welsch that provides food for children and families.

The couple makes runs all over the county throughout the week to give food to schoolchildren in need during evenings and weekends.

‘In this county, 37 percent of our students are food insecure,’ says Bill Welsch, a retired military veteran and Ohio native who started the program in 2011. ‘What that means is that many don’t the where their next meal is coming from.’


Along with the Welsches, volunteers from local churches, Mars Hill University athletic teams and even residents of others states pitch in to make the program work. Church youth groups help out during the summer and the Welsches estimate that 75 percent of funding originates from outside North Carolina.

At 70 years old, it adds up to a lot of labor for Welsch, but he says the payoff is more than worth it.

‘If you want to know how to take care of people, come to Madison County,’ he says. They’ll show you in a heartbeat, and they don’t mind doing it, either.’”

To read the full article please go to https://www.usnews.com/news/healthiest-communities/articles/2019-03-26/north-carolina-county-shines-in-struggling-appalachia. Mr. Willis did a good job of representing Madison County in this well written article.

(We have also been interviewed by the local Madison County Paper, (The News-Record) however, the article has yet to be released. We will let you know when it is!!)

As Bill states above, none of this could happen without those who share gifts of time and money to help those who are hungry in Madison County. We give thanks to all those who partner with us! Please know that you are a blessing, not only to us, but to the 37% of children here who go to bed not knowing where their next meal will come from and the veterans and senior adults who face difficult decisions about how to spend the limited money they receive each month (food is the easiest item to eliminate from a limited budget) but we ARE making a difference in the lives of these at risk individuals!

It is ONLY because of continued monetary gifts that this ministry is a reality!  We are so thankful to those who give on a regular basis.  Your continued generous support allows us to sustain this ministry on a monthly basis.  We could NOT do all we do without your faithful giving!  We are thankful for those who give on a one-time basis, too; no gift is too small and goes directly to hunger relief! And as always, we are so thankful for our praying friends and family without whose faithful prayer support The Lord’s Harvest would not exist.  Please do pray for us!   

As always, we welcome your support!  The Lord's Harvest is strictly a volunteer operation with Bill doing about 80% of the work!  100% of monetary donations go directly to hunger relief.  We have no paid staff; Bill nor Sharon receive a salary. Won't you consider giving to help “the least of these.”  Volunteers are welcome and donations are needed and appreciated!  If you would like to make a monetary donation to the Lord’s Harvest, please send your check to: 

The Lord’s Harvest

911 Bailey Street

Mars Hill, NC 28754

or you can visit our website (www.lordsharvestforthehungry.org) and click on the “donate” button.  Thank you!  We truly do give thanks for you.  May God bless you!
Serving Him,

Bill and Sharon Welsch

We are very thankful for members of our Sunday school class who packed potatoes for the Operation Santa food give-away!

We are very thankful for members of our Sunday school class who packed potatoes for the Operation Santa food give-away!

Thanksgiving Update

November 2018
Dearest Friends and Family,

Thanksgiving Day has come and gone and we are now on the roller coaster ride toward Christmas. We would be remiss not to stop and share a huge word of thanks for ALL those who have given to support The Lord’s Harvest in 2018. We are blessed to have a few folks who give on a monthly basis as well as those who give every once in a while and those who give one time only. Whatever the gift, no matter how large or small, it is very much appreciated and we are truly, humbly thankful for your support, love and prayers!

Bill received word from his recent biopsy that he is CANCER FREE! While he will continue with maintenance treatments for the next three years with an occasional biopsy and cystoscopy, we could not be more excited and want to thank you so much for your prayers and love and support. This means that Bill can continue the work we are doing through The Lord’s Harvest!

We are currently helping1,400 families through twenty agencies/ministries with food relief. We continue the new work Bill has begun with seven churches in the French Broad Association. We are delighted to be partnering with Bethel Baptist Church, Bull Creek Baptist Church, Flat Creek Baptist Church, Forks of Ivy Missionary Baptist Church, Grapevine Baptist Church, Laurel Branch Baptist Church and Middlefork Baptist Church.  These churches are working in their communities to help those who are hungry.  Because they know the people in their community, they are able to help us get food to even more people in Madison County. 

We also continue our work with Barnardsville Community Center, Beacon of Hope, Bright Hope Laurel United Methodist Church (Ebbs Chapel), Colvin Creek Church in Spillcorn, FARM (Feeding Aging Residents of Madison - part of the Madison County Senior feeding program), Flats Missionary Baptist Church in Spring Creek, Hot Springs Salvation Army Point, Ivy Ridge Housing Authority (Mars Hill), Keystone Federal Housing (Johnson City, TN), Kids for Christ (an after school program), Neighbors in Need, Spring Creek Nutritional Site, Spring Creek United Methodist Church. How thankful we are for the relationships we have formed through all these partnerships.

The Lord’s Harvest’s focus is mainly Senior Adults and children (86%) with the remainder being underemployed adults who work for minimum wage often driving two hours to and from work each day. The medium income in Madison County is $22,000; which is below average for the state of North Carolina while the cost of living here is one of the highest not only in the state but in the United States! The beauty of living in the surrounding mountains commands a high cost of living. Senior Adults, who have lived here all their lives, must often choose between paying utilities and for housing or for medicine, medical care and food; you can imagine which items are most often cut. Children have no choice about who their parents are but 37% of these children go to bed hungry each night. Thank goodness for school breakfasts and lunches but what happens when school will be closed over winter break in only a few weeks? These are places where The Lord’s Harvest can step in and help! We also have a larger percentage of veterans than the national average living in Madison County and over half of them live in poverty. The Lord’s Harvest helps these men and women who have given sacrificially for our country’s freedom! When you give financially to support The Lord’s Harvest, these are the people to whom your gift has a direct impact! 100% of monetary donations go directly to hunger relief. We have no paid staff; Bill nor Sharon receive a salary.

While it seems that Thanksgiving has become more of a marketing promotion for commercialism than a holiday to actually celebrate the gift of giving thanks for all the blessings which we have received; Bill and Sharon give thanks for friends and family. Bill’s recent good news from his biopsy report gives us even more for which to be thankful. AND we are thankful for YOU!

Perhaps you have already done your Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Local Sunday shopping. Maybe you are awaiting the deals on Cyber Monday, but we ask you to consider making a financial contribution to The Lord’s Harvest on Giving Tuesday this coming Tuesday, November 27.

It is ONLY because of continued monetary gifts that this ministry is a reality!  We are so thankful to those of you who give on a regular basis.  Your continued generous support allows us to sustain this ministry on a monthly basis.  We could NOT do all we do without your faithful giving!  We are thankful for those who give on a one-time basis, too; no gift is too small and goes directly to hunger relief! And as always, we are so thankful for our praying friends and family without whose faithful prayer support The Lord’s Harvest would not exist.  Please do pray for us!   

As always, we welcome your support!  The Lord's Harvest is strictly a volunteer operation with Bill doing about 80% of the work!  Won't you consider giving to help “the least of these.”  Volunteers are welcome and donations are needed and appreciated! If you would like to make a monetary donation to the Lord’s Harvest, please send your check to: 

The Lord’s Harvest

911 Bailey Street

Mars Hill, NC 28754

or you can visit our website (www.lordsharvestforthehungry.org) and click on the “donate” button.  Thank you! We truly do give thanks for you.  May God bless you!

                                                           Serving Him,

Bill and Sharon Welsch
 
The hands of Jesus in the heart of the Blue Ridge

The FFA leadership team from Madison High School along with one of their leaders, Adam Byrd, (not pictured) helped with packing potatoes, cornmeal, grits, rice and onion as well as making labeled bags in October! Thank you FFA leaders!

The FFA leadership team from Madison High School along with one of their leaders, Adam Byrd, (not pictured) helped with packing potatoes, cornmeal, grits, rice and onion as well as making labeled bags in October! Thank you FFA leaders!

This year we have been blessed by the Mars Hill University Baseball Team who has provided support by helping us unload orders from MANNA foodbank and helping us load our deliveries to the various areas in Madison County. Go Lions!

Mars Hill University Baseball Team Coach: Aaron Rembert

Mars Hill University Baseball Team Coach: Aaron Rembert

FEBRUARY UpDate

February 10, 2018

 Dearest Friends and Family,

We are sending our wishes for a Happy New Year and Happy Valentine’s Day all rolled into one as we kick off our first 2018 newsletter – soooo sorry for the delay – we have been busy little folks around here!  The first three weeks of January , it was just Bill and Sharon doing the work for The Lord’s Harvest since our students were on Christmas break.  Fortunately they have returned and we are thankful!  We are blessed by students from Mars Hill University who are a part of the Bonner Scholarship Program and by the young men who are part of the Mars Hill Baseball team under the coaching leadership of Aaron Rembert!  These students are a wonderful help to us and we are very blessed by them!  We are also very thankful for several individuals from Mars Hill Baptist Church who share their time to help us load food boxes for delivery.  Without the help we receive from many individuals, we could not provide the hunger relief we do!             

Members of the Mars Hill University Baseball Team

Members of the Mars Hill University Baseball Team

Unbelievably, we are beginning our eighth year of helping those who are hungry in Madison and surrounding counties. 

Statistically speaking:  The Lord’s Harvest helps:

  • 1,594 families with potatoes, pinto beans, white rice, stone-ground cornmeal and grits.

  • We provide these items to 12 different food pantries in Madison County, Buncombe County, Yancy County, Unicoi County, Tennessee and Washington County, Tennessee.

  • We also provide food boxes to 250 families throughout Madison County in locations where there is no food pantry.

  • Many of the people we serve are veterans; almost half are senior adults. 41% of the families we serve have children in the home; 33% of the children in this county go to bed hungry every night; some of them never know if or when another meal may be available. School breakfasts and lunches are their only sure source of food. Approximately 5,500 individuals receive food from The Lord’s Harvest.

 

We have lost part of our funding due to the death of dear friends, Drs Robert and Rachel Chapman in 2017.  They provided generous financial support from our meager beginnings.  This loss has caused us to take a step back and to begin to evaluate how much we can help those whom we are serving.  We will be asking our partner agencies to help us evaluate what three items their clients like best: potatoes, pinto beans, rice, cornmeal or grits.  We may transition to providing only the top three items to the sites we serve.

As always we welcome your support!  Donations to the Lord’s Harvest may be sent to: 

The Lord’s Harvest
911 Bailey Street
Mars Hill, NC 28754

 

or you can visit our website (www.lordsharvestforthehungry.org) and click on the “donate” button.  Please know that 100% of your donation goes directly back into our ministry!

We are so thankful to those of you who give on a regular basis as well.  Your continued generous support allows us to sustain this ministry on a monthly basis.  We could NOT do all we do without your faithful giving!  We are also thankful for those who give on a one-time basis; no gift is too small and goes directly to hunger relief! And as always, we are so thankful for our praying friends and family without whose faithful prayer support The Lord’s Harvest would not exist.  Please do pray for us!  May God bless you! 

             Serving Him,

Bill and Sharon Welsch
 
The hands of Jesus in the heart of the Blue Ridge.

Our beautiful Barn Quilt lovingly created by our dear friend, Judi Davids

Our beautiful Barn Quilt lovingly created by our dear friend, Judi Davids

Packing boxes - Eastern Hills Baptist Church worked hard to help us sort items and then pack boxes during their summer 2017 youth choir and mission tour

Packing boxes - Eastern Hills Baptist Church worked hard to help us sort items and then pack boxes during their summer 2017 youth choir and mission tour

The Lord's Harvest had the privilege of partnering with New Victory Baptist Church to help get food and the gospel to folks in Harlan, Kentucky

The Lord's Harvest had the privilege of partnering with New Victory Baptist Church to help get food and the gospel to folks in Harlan, Kentucky

WHY IS THERE HUNGER IN MADISON COUNTY?

Recently we received a newsletter from one of our partner agencies that described in a nutshell the reasons for hunger in Madison County.  Please allow us to share an excerpt:

[The Lord's Harvest] serves the working poor, the underemployed struggling to find full-time work, impoverished seniors, veterans, disabled adults, and children. 85% of the people we serve are senior adults, veterans, disabled adults, or children.  Although we hear the "economy is turning around" it is not turning around for these folks. We sometimes hear "Those people just need to get a job!" The working poor have jobs; they simply do not make enough to live on.  There are very few jobs in Madison County and many people have to drive to neighboring counties to find employment which means more money for fuel and additional child care costs.

Here is an example of the financial challenge facing the working poor in Western North Carolina. . .

Living expenses for a family of four in Madison County requires a monthly income of approximately $4,350.  To attain this level of income, one adult working full time would need to earn $27 an hour, or two working adults would need to make a combined income of $27 an hour.  We could argue that the state average is too high for Madison County, so for the sake of this example, let's assume living in Madison County is less costly than the state average and reduce it by 15% to $3,697 a month.  The monthly income for two parents working full time and making slightly over minimum wage, ($10/per /person) is $3,466 a month.  This results in a monthly shortfall of $231.  The fear of becoming homeless drives them to make sure all housing cots are paid first.  Common strategies to get by include; skipping meals, buying the least expensive (no nutritional value) food, as well as accessing county supportive services. 

Recently a new and sobering statistic was released showing that OVER 30% of the children in Madison County are living in poverty and are referred to as "food insecure" (which is a nice way of saying they have no idea where their next meal will come from).  A staggering number of children are homeless in our area.  The support strategies for the working poor are failing.  Families must choose to move into a shelter, live temporarily with friends or relatives, or resort to living in their cars.  Children growing up facing daily fear of hunger and homelessness are not afforded the same opportunities as other children.  These children are robbed of their childhoods, and carry "adult worries" at an early age.

While only 15% of those we serve are adults, the above synopsis may help you understand why we do what we do to help the "least of these" in our community, county, and the surrounding area.  If you would like to become involved by donating or by volunteering, Bill and Sharon would welcome your help!  You may donate on-line through this website or you can mail a check to:  "The Lord's Harvest" c/o Bill Welsch, 911 Bailey Street, Mars Hill, NC28754.  100% of your donation goes to helping those who are hungry.  Your gift is tax deductible! 

2016 Highlights

Bill was interviewed about The Lord's Harvest on a radio station in Johnson City, Tennessee. What an amazing opportunity for us to share our story about the work we are doing in Madison County! Listen to the interview here!

The Lord’s Harvest received a $1,500 grant from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina’s Wealth and Poverty Committee in December.The Lord's Harvest also received a $1,000 Bonner Scholar grant from Mars Hill University in March2016! We are humbly grateful for these organizations and their partnership with us as we help fight poverty in Madison County. 

News for Lord's Harvest

News for Lord's Harvest

Feeding

Feeding

Bill's talk at New Victory Baptist Church

Packing bags of Cornmeal

November Newsletter

I hope this finds all of you doing well and safe wherever you may be. Sharon and I wanted to send a short update because there has been some significant changes for us in the last couple of weeks. Before I tell you the latest we want to thank you for your support. We can’t tell you enough what your support means to these people and how it has made so many changes in people’s lives that otherwise don’t have much hope in this life. I try not to look at people in ways that influence me as to who deserves help and who doesn’t, but the fact that we are really starting to reach senior citizens has really given me hope and that we are making a difference. I am thankful that God has helped us break the barrier in communities that allows us to help those who are retired and in a lot of cases shut-ins. I thank God thru our efforts that now the county government has come to us and finally realizes that they cannot run a Food Support Program and that only Faith Based Organizations need to be in this business.