The Modern Woodmen Salem Chapter was on schedule, it prepared to begin selling smoked pork dinners at 11 a.m. to raise money to help the City of Salem buy playground equipment for Salem City Park.
"My son uses the Salem pool, and I wanted to help out when I heard it needed help buying equipment, and when they switched over to raising money for playground equipment, I thought it was a good project too," Sanderson said, explaining why he planned to spend Thursday night, Friday, Friday night and Saturday helping with the Modern Woodmen fundraiser.
"Town and Country is giving us a big discount on the pork, White Oak (Flash Market) is doing the baked beans and the bakery (on the square) and others are helping with the desserts," Modern Woodmen Financial Representative Donnie Lance said, as he checked his list. With an open tent in place in front of the smokers, coolers for drinks were brought out and tables were set up to dish up the food -- everything was in place for the onslaught of customers that would start in just a couple of hours.
The Salem Modern Woodmen members who would box up the dinners as they were ordered or hand over whole pork butts that people had pre-ordered hoped to make $2,500 from two days of sales. That is the amount the Modern Woodmen home office had agreed to match under its Matching Grant Program, which encourages its chapters to raise money for specific projects to benefit their communities.
"Three pork dinners," was the request as a woman waited for lunches she was picking up for herself and two co-workers. By the start of sales at 11 a.m., the fragrant smell of hickory and oak smoke quickly drew a hungry crowd, and volunteers dishing up the food were busy for six hours on Friday and three hours on Saturday.
By five p.m., on Friday, 550-pounds of smoked pork was largely gone. Brian Sanderson was planning to stoke up the fires and work again all night to smoke another 350-pounds of pork butts. Saturday morning, he admitted he had sneaked a nap during the night, laying down on a piece of cardboard next to one of the smokers, where it was nice and warm. Sanderson was later joined by his father, wife, son and other family members for the final push to sell some more pork.
"It was busy yesterday. By late afternoon, I was worn out," Vern Lindvall, the Salem Modern Woodmen Board President said as he arrived for a long Saturday shift. "We're really getting good support, so we are going to reach our (fundraising) goal." Karen Lance, Aggie Lindvall, Amanda Hall, Roy Barker, Leah Browning and Karen and Laken Coffman were others who put in long hours to make the fundraiser a success.
When the smoked cleared Saturday afternoon, Lindvall's prediction had come true. It appears the pork sales raised about $4,100, after expenses, and donations were still coming in on Monday, April 15. Add in a Modern Woodmen home office match, and it appears the city will get a good assist as it buys new playground equipment for the city park.
"It went very well," Lance said. "I want to thank all who helped, the businesses who made donations or gave us discounts to hold costs down, the volunteers who worked the booth and ran errands and provided desserts and things we needed. Also, the public support, everyone who bought dinners and pork butts and often threw in a little extra when they paid. This is what's so great about living in a small town, everyone comes together when there's a good cause to support."