Celebrating Ag Day in North Iowa
Celebrity shoppers left aisles inside the city’s newest grocery store in shambles Thursday, March 8. Bobbi Petersen, University of Northern Iowa head volleyball coach, was the worst offender. She left a trail of broken spaghetti sauce jars, a busted sack of kidney beans and dozens of cans and boxes on the floor as she frantically grabbed food off shelves in Hy-Vee on Ansborough Avenue.
The coach, whose life is admittedly hectic, wasn’t in a hurry shopping for her two sets of twin girls and husband. There was a reason for her destructive ways.
“The adrenaline kicked in, and I got a little crazy. I was thinking of all the families we are helping,” Petersen said.
The Black Hawk County Farm Bureau held its annual charity shopping spree in conjunction with National Ag Day. For more than a decade, the organization has held some type of food giveaway to celebrate the productivity of area farmers and to give back to the community. The Farm Bureau, along with of several anonymous donors, gave $1,900 worth of meat and non-perishable food to the Salvation Army. It’s enough for about 50 emergency food boxes — half the normal monthly total — the nonprofit gives to needy families.
“We have a lot of fun with it” while helping others, said Virginia Sage, event organizer.
Each shopper, with the help of Salvation Army representatives, had three minutes to fill as many carts as possible. Many items didn’t make it, or survive for that matter, giving new meaning to clean up in aisle three … four … seven … etc. Store manager Dave Bowling didn’t care, cracking a smile as Petersen — along with KWWL’s Natasha Chugtai and me — wreaked havoc in the 4-month-old facility. “We knew it was going to happen. It’s for a good cause,” Bowling said.
Chugtai and Capt. Rob Whitney were first, gathering a respectable $435. Chugtai grabbed a few items at a time, careful not to make too much of a mess. Petersen, with help from Karin Rowe, Salvation Army business manager, furiously swept dozens of cans of soup, vegetables and boxes of rice and other items at a time into cart after cart — five in three minutes. She even cut her right arm in the process.
“It’s a Supermarket Sweep battle scar,” said Petersen, who also donated $100. “It was fun and for a great cause. … It would be nice to get groceries (normally) in three minutes.”
When Petersen and Rowe were done, aisle three was a mess, but the duo’s food bill was nearly $1,100. The mom in Petersen did feel a little guilty, helping Hy-Vee employees clean up. “I got a little out of control,” she added.
Judy Gilstrap, a case worker, and I collected more than $1,150 in food, concentrating on peanut butter and breakfast items.
The Farm Bureau donated $900, which was the planned gift. However, several people at the store Thursday morning — many were Farm Bureau members — kicked in another $1,000 so the vast majority of food scanned went to the Salvation Army instead of back on shelves.
“That’s truly amazing,” Capt. Whitney said. “This is one of the most generous communities I’ve ever been in … it takes care of its own.”
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