MOUNT PLEASANT MILLS — It’s “neighbor helping neighbor” in Mount Pleasant Mills, a Snyder County community with a large Mennonite population surrounding the Pallas Hill Alpaca Farm, Joyce Carnall said.
So it was a no-brainer to use her five-acre, 20-alpaca farm Saturday to raise money for a little neighbor in need.
The Mennonite community is private, Carnall said, so there aren’t many details about the 5-year-old cancer patient: Her name is Christina, and she’s enduring heavy doses of chemotherapy at the children’s hospital at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
But the picnic-style fundraiser on Joyce and Bill Carnall’s farm saw nearly 200 people come out to enjoy good food — cooked by other Mennonite families in the area — and raise money for Christina. A figure for how much was collected was unavailable Sunday.
Most Mennonite families do not carry health insurance, and Christina’s family didn’t want their plight known, Joyce Carnall said. She learned about Christina through other Mennonite families who asked Carnall if she’d lend her farm for the event.
“I would do anything for my neighbors, and they for us,” she said.
This was a happy marriage of events, as well. The end of every September is National Alpaca Farm Days, an annual effort to promote the industry and let people get to know the gentle, woolly animals that are native to South America.
The wool from Pallas Hill’s alpacas is processed in Halifax, making it a “PA Preferred” product under the state-supported agricultural marketing program.
“I love to share information about these wonderful animals, every opportunity we get,” Carnall said.
With roughly 200 meals sold, diners also learned that alpacas are simple to care for. The Carnalls bought the land in 2007 and started with just two alpacas. “They’re very manageable, really gentle animals,” she said. “They don’t challenge fences or gates or anything.”
Christina was going to attend the fundraiser herself, “but the doctors decided they wanted her to stay there” in Hershey, Carnall said.
People continued stopping by the Carnalls’ farm Sunday to make donations, which Carnall said will all go to the family.
The farm will continue to accept donations on Christina’s behalf. Checks may be made payable to Pallas Hill Alpaca Farm, noting “care of Christina” in the memo portion.
The address is Pallas Hill Alpaca Farm, 1843 Hoffer Road, Mount Pleasant Mills, PA 17853.