Belhaven farmer donates $2,500 to Wilkinson Center

Published 9:09 pm Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The John A. Wilkinson Community Center in Belhaven has a friend in farmer Harold Smith.

Smith, of Belhaven, is the winner of a $2,500 charitable donation from the America’s Farmers Grow Communities program offered through the Monsanto Fund.

The program gives farmers in 1,245 counties in 39 states the opportunity to win $2,500 for their favorite community nonprofit organizations such as FFA, 4-H, schools, fire departments, community centers and other civic groups.

Smith, owner of Haslin Farms, directed his winning donation to the Wilkinson Center.

“I thought that would be a good thing … if I could get some money to help our community,” Smith said of his decision to apply for the award. “I really appreciate Monsanto for giving back to our community.”

Smith’s decision to donate the funds to the Wilkinson community center largely stems from a heartfelt association with the building.

“My father-in-law, L.M. Dilday, and Miss Jane (Dilday) donated a lot of money to preserve that building. It’s important for the community to have a place for meetings, weddings, dances and such. I thought it was a good cause to help keep it open,” he said.

“Plus, I went to that school. I graduated from there. There’s a lot of sentimental reasons to support that building,” Smith added.

The community center’s board of directors plans to use the funds to continue its preservation of the historical building by making structural floor repairs to areas damaged by the flooding waters of Hurricane Irene, said board secretary Ellen Allen.

Some of the funds may be used to purchase new equipment for the fitness center, she said.

“These are much-needed funds that came at a very good time. We are donation-only and don’t have a lot of money. We are very grateful to Harold for donating to the Wilkinson center,” Allen said.

Smith and Monsanto representative James Marsh attended a small ceremony recently and presented the donation to the board of directors.

America’s Farmers Grow Communities is sponsored by the Monsanto Fund to support local farming communities. Farmers are invited every year in the fall to apply for the charitable grant. One winner is selected randomly from all eligible entrants for each county.

“Grow Communities is part of a broad commitment by the Monsanto Fund to invest in farm communities such as Beaufort County. It aims to highlight the important contributions farmers such as Harold Smith make every day in our society,” said a Grow Communities statement.

Applying for the award helps the Beaufort County community in another way as well — for every Beaufort County farmer that applies, the Monsanto Fund donates $1 to the county’s United Way organization to help food banks and other hunger-relief organizations in the county, according to the America’s Farmers website.

Beaufort County farmers who wish to apply for the 2013 award may find information at