FEATURE - "The Great Thatcher Tater Run"

THATCHER – By Ellen Cook – May 2, 2020


No one seems to want to take credit for a job well done.

Yale King of Thatcher says his neighbors, Darrin and Jackie Hogue, came up with the idea and are the real heroes.

The Hogues deny that claim, saying it was Jeff Schultz, another Thatcher resident, who “got the ball rolling,” resulting in the distribution of nearly 8,000 pounds of potatoes.

Schultz, however, said he was simply glad to be part of a “neat experience.”

That experience, and this story, began just over two weeks ago.

Jackie happened to catch a Facebook post from Oakley, Idaho. Cranney Farms grows potatoes there and was expecting to sell its product for a profit. But the Covid-19 pandemic literally shut down the market and left those expectations hanging.

Rather than dump the crop, the owners offered to give it away to anyone who wanted to come with a bucket, box, car trunk or pickup truck. Story continues below.

The Tremonton Food Pantry received a shipment of Idaho potatoes thanks to local farmers. Courtesy photo

Jackie mentioned it to her husband, and they talked about getting a box of potatoes for themselves. But Oakley was a two-hour drive away and, according to Darrin, “We didn’t need potatoes that bad.”

Then Darrin got to thinking outside that one box. Once an avid biker, he was used to organizing benefit runs for those who needed a helping hand.

“In two days, I could get my club together for a fundraiser,” Darrin said.

The Hogues are newcomers to Thatcher, however, having moved from back east just two years ago, and were not yet involved in their community.

“We haven’t really done anything here,” Darrin admitted. “We just keep to ourselves.”

But they had become acquainted with the guy across the street, Yale King, and thought he might know who in the neighborhood could use free potatoes. They gave him a call.

King, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, knew just where to go for help. He called his Elder’s Quorum president, Jeff Schultz.

“In an hour, a trip was organized,” King said.

“We had pickup trucks and a 20 ft. trailer. We had baskets and buckets and totes to put the potatoes in. I talked to the Hogues about 4 p.m. Monday night. By the next morning we were ready to go," he added. Story continues below.

Courtesy photo

In the above photo and pictured with 8,000 pounds of Idaho French Fry potatoes is (left to right) Bishop Lynn and Nancy Pence, Victor Bellini, DeVer Hansen and Jackie and Darrin Hogue. Not pictured is Richard Gibson and Jeff Schultz.

The Hogues were stunned by the quick response. They and Schultz, along with six others, left about 9 a.m., on their "Great Potato Run," arriving at Cranney Farms about 10:30 a.m.

“There were lots of people already there loading potatoes,” Schultz said. “We just backed up and started loading, too. They were absolutely beautiful potatoes!”

The crew spent about two and a half hours filling donated totes, bags and buckets. The farm’s owner, Douglas Cranney, arrived while they were picking the potato pile and introduced himself to the workers.

“I expressed our appreciation for his generosity,” Schultz said, “and even offered to pay for the potatoes we were taking, but he graciously declined. He said that was not why he was doing this. He wanted to help those in need. He even got emotional when he talked about what a great experience it had turned out to be. He said that so many who had come for potatoes weren’t getting them for themselves but for others.”

By evening the tater trekkers was back in the valley with nearly 8,000 pounds of potatoes in tow. Their first stop was at the Tremonton Food Pantry where an amazed worker helped offload nearly a ton of the cargo. Story continues below.

Potatoes were donated to the Tremonton Food Pantry with the help of local farmers and families. Courtesy photo

“He was so grateful,” Schultz said. “He was going to contact the Malad Food Pantry, the one in Logan and the one in Brigham City and divvy them out.”

The remaining 6,000 pounds were taken back to Thatcher, where a pick-up location was set up at the bowery behind the Thatcher-Penrose church.

According to King, it did not take long for people to know that free potatoes were available.

“We put the word out on social media, through word of mouth, to come fill your bucket with what you can use and then take some for your neighbors.”

Darrin said about 25 people showed up at first.

“Some came and stayed to help us unload, some started handing them out to others. Some picked them up and began delivering door to door,” he said.

Schultz said the load was dispersed in record time.

“That 6,000 pounds was gone within the night,” he said. “In 12 hours, they were divvied throughout the area.”

None of the four feel they deserve praise for the end result, but all were grateful for the chance to be involved.

Said the Hogues, “We were just happy we were able to help. It was the human thing to do, the right thing to do. We don’t have enough of that in our world today.”

Schultz added, “I cannot tell you how neat it was to do this for the community. It was a very neat experience.”

In the end, they all agree the accolades go to Cranney Farms.

“The donation came from them,” Schultz said. “Douglas Cranney is the real hero in this story! The Lord will bless him for his generosity.”

Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo