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Gleaners find auction an opportunity to help many

Sean Clark, of Hebron, shows off his swine prior to the 4-H large animal auction last year at the Lake County Fair in Crown Point.

When the 4-H livestock auction gets underway each year at the Lake County Fair, there's no doubt the Hawthorne Arbor of Gleaners will be there.

It's through the auction the service organization, which is associated with the Gleaner Life Insurance Society, has found a method of assisting several groups.

Pat Sutton, the treasurer and secretary of the Hawthorne Arbor, said participating in the auction helps support 4-H, and everything they purchase there will be used to help others.

Janet Kraynik, president of the Lake County 4-H Club Committee, said funding received through the auction goes back to the 4-H members who raised the animals.

Some will invest the proceeds in new animals to raise. Others put their money into college funds, Kraynik said.

She said she's happy to have the Gleaners at the auction each year.

“They've been a great supporter of our program,” Kraynik said.

Meat from the animals bought at the auction is donated to churches and township trustee offices so it can be distributed to low-income residents.

Cedar Creek Township Trustee Alice Dahl said her office receives food donations each year from the Gleaners.

Chickens and turkeys are among the items the group has provided, and they have been distributed around Thanksgiving.

Dahl recalled a large turkey weighing at least 30 pounds that was provided to a family with six children. She said it was so large, the family had trouble fitting it in their oven.

When providing meat to churches and township offices, the Hawthorne Arbor, which is based in Lowell, also issues monetary donations to help support food pantries operated by the organizations.

“I can't say enough good things about the Gleaners,” Dahl said.

Of all the turkeys the Gleaners buy each year at the auction, the group sets one aside to honor local firefighters.

They host an annual Thanksgiving dinner for fire departments. The event rotates from departments in several communities, including Lowell, Cedar Lake, St. John, Shelby and Lake Dale.

The Lowell Fire Department was honored by the group a few years ago, Fire Chief Matt Van Drunen said.

“They're a great organization,” Van Drunen said of the Hawthorne Arbor.

The Gleaners prepared the meal, which was served to firefighters at the Cedar Creek Township Community Center.

“We sat down, got to know everybody and shared stories,” Van Drunen said.

In addition to the dinner, the Gleaners also provided financial support to the Fire Department, and that funding was designated for its equipment fund.

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