Ron and Jennifer Gleason know a thing or two about root vegetables. Jennifer’s family has run Hillside Gardens, a farm and produce company located in Ontario, Canada, and in the state of Georgia in the United States, for 50 years. Half of that time Jennifer has been married to Ron, who is now the company president.
Ron and Jennifer are in another business as well: the business of giving. Ron speaks highly of his wife and her generosity; he says it runs in her family. In fact, the mission of Hillside Gardens always has been one of giving.
On October 3rd of this year, Hillside Gardens hosted a fundraiser for Covenant Mercies at their 50th Anniversary celebration. Ron explained the fundraiser and how they met their goals:
“We asked for sponsors to donate raffle prizes (we had $2000 in prizing donated.) Hillside matched contributions dollar for dollar. We raised $1500 that night, and matched it with a $1500 donation. The next day my in-laws said they would donate $1000 to bring the total donation to $5000 with Hillside matching to reach our goal for the night. The next week I met with a customer who asked about the night. I explained what we did and why we thought it was important. He was very affected, and offered to make a $1000 contribution on the spot. That brought our total to $7000.”
Not only are the Gleasons and Hillside Gardens raising funds for Covenant Mercies, but the Gleasons personally sponsor 20 children in our Orphan Sponsorship Program. She [Jennifer] has often been the one in our relationship to recognize opportunities to be generous before I have seen them. So thankful she saw this one,” said Ron.
Ron and Jennifer have 4 grown children of their own, but look to the 20 orphans they sponsor as part of the family. When Executive Director, Doug Hayes, wrote to the Gleasons informing them of the passing of one of their sponsored children, Ron said they wept and wept.
He continued, “We’re learning to love kids we’ve never met, and trying to make a difference. Very grateful for my (slowly) expanding awareness of a world where people need to encounter the love of Christ. CM helps us to do that. What a great privilege it is to love these children who are orphans, just like we were before Christ adopted us.”
When asked if he had the chance to meet anyone of his sponsored children, what would he tell them? Ron replied, “Think of what we do for you, as Jesus caring for you. If Jesus had not loved me first, and made me think differently about money and life, I would never have thought of helping anyone. I was selfish and hard. So if you think of thanking me, think of thanking Jesus.”
Lastly, Ron offers some encouragement for other sponsors in Covenant Mercies, and for those thinking of sponsoring a child:
“God generously ‘sponsored’ us, and every other redeemed sinner. It is hard to overstate the privilege of joining in His sponsoring work. It is hard to overstate the value of the regular reminder that sponsorship provides, to think on the fact that Christ did so much more for us. Few things in life hold the distinction of being able to produce joy and happiness. I think that many who sponsor one of these children will find that this ministry does. Most North Americans would gladly pay $1 day for that kind of result. $1 a day will sponsor an orphan. Most of us can afford the $1 and can’t afford to miss the opportunity.”
Ron and Jennifer do know a thing or two about harvesting root vegetables. But they realize there is a much greater harvest to invest in; an investment with eternal ramifications. It’s a harvest reaping hope for many orphans.