Caring Neighbors, Hard at Work
When other area farmers realized the difficulties Dale Vangilder was facing, they decided to unite to help one of their own. Combines went to work in Vangilder's fields, harvesting rice and soybean crops; rows of trailer trucks lined along dirt roads to transport grains and cotton pickers collected open bolls which survived a tumultuous year, all through the kind, caring acts of neighbors.
Vangilder, who has farmed in the Rector area his entire life, was facing the same challenges other local producers had ahead of them when he suffered a debilitating stroke. As he now battles health concerns, his work on the farm came to a screeching halt. His family, sons-in-law Aaron Harmon and Arron Spears and cousin Bill Vangilder, have worked with Vangilder for years, and his new trials hit them hard, as well.
As area farmers learned more about the situation, several decided to work together to aid the family. Chad Agee, Aaron and Stacy Speer, Mike and Mark Graham and Mike Vowell and members of their crews went to work bringing in Vangilder's rice crops. Steve Murray and Shawn Fuller brought out multiple tractor trailers to make sure the grains were taken from the field and stored.
The cotton harvest was leant a helping hand from David, Steve and Will Simmons and David Cagle, who battled cold, sharp winds to make sure the crop was tended.
"All these guys came together to help out Dale," Eric Clayton, grandson of Bill Vangilder, said. He worked alongside the gathered crews throughout the cold days. "They did that because they're good people who care about others. Everybody just came together for this. It's really incredible when you think about it. No one called and asked them for help; they saw a need and they decided to something about it."
There was plenty of work to go around. This past Wednesday, crews loaded more than 20 trucks with grain. This week the attention has turned to Vangilder's 400-plus acres of cotton.
"We're all very aware of what it takes to make a crop and get it out and pay the bills," David Cagle said. "With Dale going through what he is right now, we knew getting those crops in was going to be more difficult, and that was something we could help with."
None of those helping have asked for special compensation or accolades for their efforts. The gestures were not about receiving attention or padding their own bottom lines.
"This is just an example of people coming together to help someone," Cary Clayton, a long-time friend of the Vangilder family said. "It's sort of like a brotherhood of farmers, and they all saw a fellow farmer who could use some assistance. That's the kind of people and the kind of community we have here in this area."
Area farmers have also come to the aid of others in the past. A few years ago, local producers united to assist Danny Holifield with his crops after he suffered a heart attack. Earlier this year, farmers worked to tend the crops of the late Darrel Speer. When area farmers and their families are face tragedies and challenges, they are seldom alone.