Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

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July 16, 2013

Palo Pinto Challenge picking up the pieces

Vandals hit local program for mentality challenged

(Continued)

Cranfill said the men and women of Palo Pinto Challenge "make and sell the world's best picante sauce and candied jalapenos."  As a licensed food processor that buys products commercially, the acts of vandalism will not effect the program's salsa production. However, Cranfill said the workers are visibly upset about the destruction.

"They are really concerned that someone is tearing their things up," she said. "[They have said] 'Who would do this to us?' They give things away from their garden. The salsa workers are still working hard, but it's just sad. It's no fun to go sit on the rock anymore, because the rock's just about gone."

Cranfill explained that the garden was not only a fun activity for the workers, but also a very important teaching tool.

"The garden is truly a life skill," she said. "It teaches social skills like, 'Let me grow this for you,' 'Let me pick this for you.' [Some] have even taken gardening skills home to their families."

Besides the emotional toll, Cranfill said the flooding of the garden created a significant financial issue for the program. Not only will they have to repair the damage, but they will also have to foot the steep water bill on top of normal expenses. She explained that all profit from the salsa goes back into buying the products required to make it. As a non-profit organization, they rely heavily on donations. She said they are going to approach city council for help.

"We're in such a financial scrape right now, because we're a non-profit, I'm not sure how we're going to recoop," she said. "We are down $10,000 on our annual donations just from grants that were lost. Our big fundraiser is the Salsa Baron's Ball that happens at the end of February. That money's just about gone now. But God hasn't closed us down and there's going to be a way."

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