By Felicia A. Petro/Senior Reporter
GROVE CITY —
And a child shall lead them.
"The Crop Swap has brought out leadership skills in me," said Kendra Trezona, 11. "It's really been fun and I would have been bored all summer if I didn't do this."
Kendra has been leading the unique Crop Swap at East Main Presbyterian Church in Grove City, which the church did in the past but hasn't done for years.
"It's going really well," said Kendra, who attends East Main with her family.
The Swap involves people exchanging fresh, summer produce they've grown and brought to the church during services on Sunday. Those without produce to swap can leave a money donation and take what vegetables they like.
"People have had massive zucchini," Kendra said - so much so she keeps them out of reach from the hands of curious toddlers. "I'm afraid they'll snap someone on the head or smash zucchinis all over," she said.
Cucumbers, onions and carrots have shown up at the Swap, as well as some tomatoes, which are always grabbed up by one church member each week, Kendra said.
When the Swap ends Sept. 1, money donated - which Kendra collects and counts and the church keeps safe - will be given to the Grove City Community Food Pantry.
In the past four weeks, the Swap has raised $70 and lots of folks have enjoyed exchanging fresh produce each week.
Any leftovers by Monday morning are walked by Kendra, her brother, 9-year-old Trey, and friend Megan Smith to the pantry. The youths then volunteer to wash dishes at the pantry and sort clothes at its second-hand store, Thrifty Threads.
"One week I had 30 vegetables on my table and they were all gone that week," she noted, leaving no produce for the pantry.
Megan and friend Abby Foley also helped make signs in the planning stages of the Swap. "They've done a good job," Kendra said.
She wants more community people involved in the Swap - and have more food and money donations for the pantry. To get out the word more, she stood solo before Grove City Borough Council on Monday to talk Swap, which impressed council members.
"I was really scared," Kendra said, especially being next to speak after some angry citizens. "I ran for Student Council in fifth grade so I had some experience speaking in front of people."
Her mother, Lisa Trezona, brought her to the meeting; however, "She really doesn't let me do much," the mom said.
Kendra went to the borough building herself to ask permission to speak before council. "I knew it would maybe get people's attention for the Crop Swap. I was happy I did it in the end," she said.
The young girl knew about council through talks she overheard between her grandfather and the mayor of Grove City, who are friends.
Kendra also stood alone to address the sizable East Main congregation earlier in the summer about her plans to revive the Swap drive.
"It was really fun. I wasn't as nervous at that one," she said. Kendra recites the Lord's Prayer through sign language twice a year at the church and has been in Junior Choir.
She's also talked once to Girl Scout Troop 30424, Grove City, of which she is a member, about seeing a Broadway show. Kendra will soon be giving another talk to the troop about a recent trip to the Delaware River.
She was exposed to Thrifty Threads in third grade with the Girl Scouts, and learned more about the food pantry last summer when the troop started organizing a food drive for Christmas.
This summer, Kendra's Vacation Bible School at East Main collected 200 canned food and paper/table service products for the pantry.
However, "I really wanted to do something on my own to help the community," added Kendra, who felt it would also show her parents that she was responsible enough to babysit alone. "They could go away for a date night. They need that," she said.
Entering sixth grade this year at Grove City Middle School, Kendra also plays softball, loves to read - she was involved in the library's summer reading program this year. - and is part of youth programs at East Main.
She'll be too old to attend VBS next summer, but will help lead preschool kids. "In two years, I may go to India," Kendra added, on a mission's trip through the church with Harvest Bridge.
An animal lover, she'd like to be a veterinarian.
"I love helping people and it's a good way to bring the two together, she said. "I don't mind getting my hands dirty."
Kendra also wants to continue the Swap for as long as East Main permits. "I hope the church says yes," she said.
Amy Biddle, who works with children at East Main, guided Kendra and her young team in this year's mission.
Kendra generally enjoys the start of school more than the start of summer, but the Swap has given her a new vision. "This is my first time looking forward to summer in three years," she said.
"I have ideas for next year," she added. She'd like to seek out produce donations from vendors at the Olde Town Farmers Market for the Swap.
She's pleased with this year's Swap revival.
"I'm happy we've earned money for the pantry and so many vegetables. I'm so happy people know about it ... and Grandma and my aunt aren't the only ones bringing in vegetables from the garden. I'm happy people can have vegetables even if they don't need the food pantry's help," Kendra said. "I'm pretty proud of her," said Mrs. Trezona, tearing up. "She surprises me left and right."
Published Aug. 24, 2013, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.