There are those among us now who, when they hear us speak of the roof loan or the mulch project, are not fully aware of the story.

In 1989, if one stood on the park and looked at the roof of St. Paul’s a definite sag was obvious. Upon investigation, it was determined that the old hand-hewn carrier beams had deteriorated allowing the walls of the church to splay outward. Under a heavy snow the roof of our lovely old church was in danger of collapse. What a dire diagnosis for a small congregation! A loan of well over one hundred thousand dollars was granted from the diocese. Everything was removed from the sanctuary except the altar and the organ. The old dome ceiling came down, the beams replaced and rods installed to keep the walls in place.Services were held in the parish hall for months, the first service, being held in the church on Christmas Eve. Then the parish was faced with the question of how to pay back the debt. An every member canvass was the first step toward eliminating this debt and each member gave as much as his or her budget would allow. However there was still a huge balance left.

Enter Craig Newton, son of Pat Barrows and owner of Feed Commodities Intl. who was trucking chocolate from Hershey Chocolate in Penn. He suggested that perhaps Cocoa Bean shells would make a good fundraiser.  Marion Davis “ hit the road” and became our ace salesperson. The first year, a half load was sold and since then it has been fine tuned to two and sometimes three loads. A mailing list has been developed and regular customers look forward to the sale each year. So many people have made this happen in so many ways. Marion Manning became the publicity chairman and did such a good job that one year the sale opened at 8:00 and was sold out at 9:30.  So many others have worked so hard to make this venture a success and many times under unpleasant conditions (i.e., wind, snow and sleet) until Alan and Judy Langeway made their motor home available for an office. So now, after tossing over eight hundred and fifty thousand pounds (plus) of cocoa mulch, we are debt free. We tithe ten percent of the gross sales to helping agencies and the balance has been deposited to a fund to restore our organ. Our aim is to restore it and dedicate it to George Swift who was a long time organist at St. Paul’s. Traditionally, the sales are held on the last Saturday of April and the first Saturday of May.

Many who have not been able to handle bags have supported the project in other ways—by feeding workers, by trucking with pickup trucks, by purchasing the mulch and by the loan of Feed Commodities “bag” truck. We also recognize the generosity of Steady Transport, who have trucked for us many years and even though the cost of hauling has increased, they have never raised their price to us. In fact when there was the threat of a strike at Hershey, the driver turned around and went back to insure that we have it for the sale and they stored it for us for a week.

For more information on our mulch ministry, contact Pat Barrows, the author of “The Mulch Story.”

The St. Paul’s Mulch Sale

Unloading the mulch

The decorated mulch truck

Mulch-loaders extraordinaire in 2005