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Group works to improve lives of area residents

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Unity in the Community, a faith-based group headquartered in Polk County that reaches over the county line into Rutherford, works to improve the lives of residents across Polk County and surrounding areas by providing activities and services for entire families.

David Staley, chairperson and founder of Unity in the Community Organization (2007), talked about the organization that is managed by nine board members.

During the Christmas season Staley said volunteers packed numerous gift baskets with items provided by the Unity Seeds Youth group from Polk and Rutherford counties. The group is made up of youth ages 7-17.

The majority of the Christmas basket items came from the youth group's herb garden.

"They worked in the herb garden and that's amazing," Staley said. "They planted, maintained the garden, sometimes watering the garden "pail by pail...working hard in the heat."

Herb garden items included a combination of yellow popcorn, black Popcorn (pops white), strawberry popcorn, oregano, thyme, catnip, lemon balm, sage, peppermint, basil, mother's wart and chives.

Christmas baskets included a variety of jams and jellies,

From the garden, tobacco was also grown for experimental purposes, "to see how well it grew in the region", Staley explained. Tobacco plants grew over seven feet tall and the "before-frost tobacco" was packaged to be used as seasoning for meat and treatment of bee stings, Staley said.

Other products from the youth herb garden will be available for the organization's Valentine Day Sale.

In addition to special occasions and Christmas holidays, Staley said Unity in the Community provides approximately 180 baskets for the needy once a month that include basic food items.

Unity in the Community also provides fresh fruit and vegetable delivery for senior citizens. Community volunteers, board members and youth assist with the monthly deliveries.

A community commercial freezer that is maintained by Stencil Quarles of Spindale and the Union Grove Baptist Church in Columbus keeps food and meats until delivery dates.

For Thanksgiving more than 160 needy residents received fresh produce, a choice of turkey, ham, or whole chicken that was provided by Quarles and Union Grove Baptist.

Unity in the Community is headquartered at 5620 Pea Ridge Road, Rutherfordton.

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