Listen to this article

CHAMPAIGN — Some area farmers took time out from their own harvesting Saturday to reap grain for the United Way of Champaign County.

Ten of them rolled their combines to 80 acres of Champaign school district-owned land north of the city on a windy afternoon to harvest corn and soybeans, part of the United Way’s Farmers Feeding Families initiative.

The charitable organization leases the land from the school district.

Thomasboro’s Perry Sage worked the fields in his combine with 6-year-old granddaughter Macey Huls riding shotgun.

“I’ve been doing this since 2013. It’s the right thing to do,” Sage said. “We’ve got good ground, and people are willing to donate the inputs. It is good to help people.”

They completed the work in about two-and-a-half hours, then trucked the grain to The Andersons elevator.

Salvo Rodriquez said money from the harvested crops will go to the United Way of Champaign County.

Among the programs and organizations that will benefit: Meals on Wheels, Peace Meal Senior Nutrition, the Eastern Illinois Foodbank, the Greater Community AIDS Project’s Harvest to Home Food Pantry and Prosperity Gardens.

“All these farmers have volunteered their time and their talents to benefit our food programs,” said Rodriquez, the United Way’s director of new business. “The farmers actually came to us and wanted to give back in some way, shape or form.

“We wanted to do something that was different, and this was the perfect way to do it.”

Randy Moore of Klein Farms, who hauled the grain to the elevator by truck, was volunteering for the third year in a row.

“It is a good feeling doing something to help out the United Way,” Moore said. “I feel like I am doing something I’m supposed to do.”



Tim Mitchell is a reporter at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@mitchell6).