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How a casual conversation resulted in 40,000 pounds of sweet potatoes for hurricane victims

The food donation came from Burch Farms, an 8,000-acre agriculture business in eastern North Carolina.

Deacon William Stanley of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, left, with Burch Farms’ principal owner, Jimmy Burch.

A casual conversation between two cousins has yielded 40,000 pounds of North Carolina-raised sweet potatoes headed to assist Hurricane Harvey victims in Port Arthur, Texas.

Deacon William Stanley of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church was visiting family back home in Faison, a small town in farm-rich Sampson County, when he mentioned to his cousin, Jimmy Boone, how Friendship had sent men on mission projects to Port Arthur to help homeowners whose lives were virtually in shambles in the wake of the late-summer storm. The missions focused on helping restore homes or preparing them for construction teams.

The Church also sent thousands of dollars to help hurricane victims pay utilities, mortgages and to buy supplies and food. The Friendship men had partnered with the Mount Sinai Baptist Church in Port Arthur to coordinate the disaster-relief efforts.

Left to right: The Rev. J.R. Covington, associate pastor at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, offers prayer of thanksgiving with Jimmy Boone, Burch Farms principal owner Jimmy Burch, and Deacon William Stanley of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.

When Boone heard about all the Charlotte church had done, he was moved by the story and began thinking about what other support might be available.

That support came by way of a food donation from Burch Farms, an 8,000-acre agriculture business in Faison. Boone has had a lifelong friendship with the farm’s owners.

On the strength of that friendship, Burch Farms’ principal owner, Jimmy Burch, sanctioned a shipment of sweet potatoes to Port Arthur. Friendship’s associate pastor, the Rev. J.R. Covington, is a long-distance truck driver who volunteered to deliver the cargo.

Top: Left to right: The Rev. J.R. Covington, associate pastor at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. Bottom, from left to right: Deacon William Stanley of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church; Jimmy Boone; Burch Farms principal owner Jimmy Burch

In addition to sweet potatoes, Friendship is sending other supplies, along with items appropriate for Christmas gifts – clothing, toys, and fresh fruit.

Friendship’s senior pastor, the Rev. Clifford Jones Sr., said this latest shipment will not end of his church’s efforts to assist Harvey victims. The thousands of families affected by the storm will need help well into the future, he said.

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