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A Letter from Chip – Silver Bells…or Silver Lining?

December 2020

Dear Friends,

In a recent online article titled “2020’s Silver Lining,” Businesswire reported that according to a new holiday poll conducted by Groupon, nearly 70% of the people surveyed said they are more appreciative of their family and friends due to the challenges presented in 2020. In a year ravaged by a pandemic and economic crisis – and everything else in between – learning about this refreshing shift in overall thinking and attitude is certainly uplifting to say the least. But at America’s Grow-a-Row (AGAR), the mindset of appreciating all of our friends, or as we like to say, the AGAR family, is nothing new. After all, if not for our volunteers, supporters, and the many hunger relief agencies we work with, and if not for our friends and families who stand by our sides, we would not have been able to harvest and deliver 2 million pounds, or 8 million servings, of fresh produce to those facing hunger and food insecurity this year.

This renewed sense of gratitude made me think very deeply about how grateful I am for ALL of those who have played a role in helping AGAR make the enormous impact that we have throughout the years. As you would expect, there are many thousands of families and individuals who have touched the program on so many different levels. Certainly there are many unsung heroes, and if not for them, without question we would not be where we are today. One dear friend of AGAR who crosses my mind quite frequently is Madelyn Alessandrini, the former Executive Director of the Flemington Area Food Pantry. Madelyn has since passed on, but if you are familiar with the AGAR story you know that back in 2002 there was a small 3-line article in the local newspaper requesting that area gardeners donate any extra produce to the food pantry, suggesting that they “grow a row” for the hungry. It was those 3 simple lines that caught my eye and sparked the idea for “Grow-a-Row” and more importantly for helping those struggling with hunger. If not for our dear friend Madelyn and her simple plea, just asking for help for the food pantry, AGAR would not be here today and would not have donated over 12.6 million pounds, or 50.4 million servings, of fresh food since we started our program in 2002. It just goes to show that no matter how big or how small your efforts and contributions are, each one makes a huge difference and each one is an equally important part of the AGAR story.

This year the holidays will be very different, and unfortunately many of us will not be able to spend time in person with the ones we love and greatly appreciate. But I hope that during this season when we’d normally be more attuned to silver bells, you too will find joy in this silver lining from 2020 – the realization and valuable reminder that any amount of time spent together with the ones we care about is a precious gift to be cherished. This holiday season I’m more grateful than ever for my loving immediate and extended family and for my dear friends…and of course for the entire AGAR family.     

May God bless you all this holiday season.

See you in the fields!


3 thoughts on “A Letter from Chip – Silver Bells…or Silver Lining?

  1. Deborah Miller says:

    I am so grateful for all that you have accomplished since you were first challenged to grow a row!

    Have a blessed Christmas and a healthy New Year.

    Debbie Miller

  2. Joslin & Jack Ruffle says:

    Your response to the challenges of this year has been awesome and inspiring!
    What a difference you have made in the lives of others, many who for the first time were food insecure. Thanks to all of you at AGAR!

  3. Karen Layland says:

    Chip, I remember well our first conversations about establishing America’s Grow-A-Row. How it has been blessed by blessing so many! Wow. So proud of you and your team and all those who support this effort in so many ways. Thanks for reaching out to our neighbors in need and the excellent example you have set for all of us. Thanks for your continuing leadership during this season of the greatest gift!

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