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Pulling in quite a haul
Times photo: Tere Dunlap Bruce Truttmann, Monticello, passes a case of food as part of the Green County Fall Nationals staff brigade who overflowed Green Cares shelves with 11,200 pounds of food and paper products in 90 minutes Saturday.
MONROE - Green County Fall Nationals is pulling more than its own weight.

Sponsors and the roughly 5,000 fans at the annual tractor and truck pull event Sept. 18, raised more than enough money to fully stock Green County's newest food pantry, Green Cares, near Monticello.

Mark Hawthorn, event organizer, and about 20 staff members surprised pantry volunteers Saturday with a delivery of 11,200 pounds of food and paper products.

Using a "fire bucket brigade" method, they had the donations unloaded and shelved in every nook and cranny of the facility in about an hour and a half.

Green County Fall Nationals is unique among tractor pull events, Hawthorn said.

"We give back to the community," he said. "People have told me the Green County Fall Nationals is affordable family entertainment. So the business sponsors are getting their word out; fans are getting their money's worth; everybody is getting something out of it."

Many Green County businesses are becoming repeat sponsors because of the circular flow of money through the community, he said.

"Without the sponsors, there would be no show," Hawthorn said.

One sponsor, Piggly Wiggly, Monroe, was a "big help" as Hawthorn sought to buy as much food as possible with the money he had to spend.

"They gave us a good deal on prices," Hawthorn said. "But they had a little trouble running the check through. They never had a check that big written for groceries before."

Hawthorn had a concern about finding the best price for everything he bought with the proceeds, according to his mother JoAnn Hawthorn.

"I am amazed. He was a passion for this kind of stuff that I never knew he had," she said.

Hawthorn set a goal of getting 10,000 pounds of food for the pantry. He was disappointed when he first thought he had acquired only 7,000 pounds, until everything was loaded, and the truck was run up onto a scale.

Hawthorn said he still has money left for donations to individuals and the Secret Santa program.

"The people of Green County will eat," said Mary Gafner, Green Cares pantry coordinator, after the shelves were filled.

Earlier this month, Gafner said she got word from Jeannie Blumer, Green County Human Services economic support supervisor, that the county was short on food, and didn't know how the it would get through the holidays.

With the Green County Fall Nationals' donation, Gafner hopes Green Cares will be able to last to the end of February.

Green Cares served 277 people in 83 families in November. Gafner expects that number to increase as more people are affected by job loss and the economy, and as more people find Green Cares.