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Season for seniors vegetable stand fades
Betty Hopkins gets ready to put out some collard greens at the Sunshine Seniors vegetable stand Thursday at the Hall County Health Department. Thursday was the last of the vegetable sales for the season. - photo by Tom Reed

All summer long, the Sunshine Seniors endured the sweltering heat to man their fruit and vegetable stand outside of the Hall County Health Department.

In a fitting farewell to summer, the group of volunteers closed up shop on Thursday - the first, official day of fall.

"We had a variety of stuff - squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, corn and okra," said Minnie Moody, a Gainesville resident and Sunshine Senior. "But turnip greens were our best seller, everyone wanted those."

For the last eight years, the group of seniors has been busy promoting healthy living throughout the community.

By keeping the prices of the produce low, the group hoped to encourage more Hall County residents to make healthier food choices.

Eating healthy isn't just a phrase the group utters to customers; it is a mantra they strive to live by.

To celebrate the end of the season, the group organized a potluck luncheon.

With dishes such as squash casserole, steamed cabbage, sweet potato casserole, grape salad and baked chicken, the group dined on relatively healthy fare.

There were also guilty pleasures such as macaroni and cheese and brownies.

"We all brought a dish. I started to fry the chicken, but I decided to bake it instead because it's better for us," said Belinda Dickey, a member of the Sunshine Seniors.

"There's nothing wrong with frying food from time to time, but you can't always eat like that."

Although they won't be selling produce any more this year, the seniors have plans to stay busy.

"I joined the Sunshine Seniors because it was something to do, instead of sitting at home doing nothing," Marion Willis said. "We get to do a lot of good in the community."

The group has built wheelchair ramps for disabled residents, adopted nursing home patients and worked on a variety of other community service projects.

"Every third Wednesday, we set up a bingo game at The Guest House (in Gainesville)," Zerdis G. Thomas said. "They really enjoy it."

And this isn't the last of the fruit and vegetable stand, either.

"We'll be right here next year," Elizabeth Westbrooks said. "If the Lord is willing, we hope to be right here."