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Donations needed for youth fair's Pig Project

Steve Nash / Brownwood Bulletin
Family members of the late Larry Schwartz are pictured in  a February 2020 photo. From left are Dalton Adams (grandson), Ruth Schwartz (wife), Shannon Adams (daughter) and Donny Adams (son-in-law).

With the Brown County Youth Fair opening Sunday, the family of the late Larry Schwartz reminds the community  that the Pig Project — which Schwartz helped started several years ago — will once again be part of this year’s fair.

The Pig Project benefits Good Samaritan Ministries as well as the youth who sell their pigs to the Pig Project.

That means donations to Good Samaritan to offset the cost of the Pig Project are needed, Schwartz’s daughter, Shannon Adams, said.

In the Pig Project, members of Schwartz’s family buy pigs that didn’t make the premium sale from youths who want to sell the animals near the end of the youth fair. The family is reimbursed by Good Samaritan for the purchases.

The pigs are taken to the rural property northeast of Early where Schwartz lived with his wife, Ruth. Family members feed and care for the animals for 60 days. Then the animals are processed, with Good Samaritan covering the cost of processing, and the meat is taken to Good Samaritan distribution to families.

“One of the one things I just need people to know is that there is a dire need in this county for this type of product,” Adams said. “There are people that are going to food banks, and the support of the community through their charitable contributions is what makes this program work.

“Our family puts the work in to take care of the pigs and I will be there Thursday of the youth fair to offer to buy any of those pigs that don’t make the sale, or if the (exhibitor) just wants to (sell) them. I will be there to do those things, but the charitable contribution and donations from this community and the surrounding area are what makes this program viable.”

Schwartz died the morning of the youth’s fair’s Premium Sale in an Abilene hospice on Jan. 12, 2019 at the age of 72.

Because of Schwartz’s illness and death, the family suspended the Pig Project that year before resuming it in 2020. 

The goal for this year’s Pig Project is to buy and process 20 to 30 pigs, Adams said.

“This is a win-win for a lot of people,” Adams said. “The kids still get to make the money even if their project didn’t place. It also provides a service to the community for those families,  those children, those elderly people that need food.

“That’s why those charitable contributions still need to be coming in to Good Sam designated for the Pig Project so that we have that money to purchase the pigs and also so that we have the money to pay for the processing because all that’s taken care of through Good Sam.”

Good Samaritan also reimburses the family for the feeding of the pigs, Adams said.

"It means so very, very much,” Ruth Schwartz said in January 2020 as the family prepared to resume the Pig Project. She referred to a 2017 media report in which her husband said the Pig Project helps the youth at the youth fair and also helps the community.

“That’s very important,” Ruth Schwartz said. “It helps the youth fair kids. Plus, it helps the families served by Good Samaritan."

She said her husband would be pleased “beyond measure. It had become such an important thing to Larry. He would just be so pleased and I can see that smile,” Schwartz said.

Leesa Stephens, executive director of Good Samaritan Ministries, recalled that the Pig Project started when Ruth Schwartz was on the Good Samaritan board of directors.  

“Her family was, of course, very involved in the youth fair,” Stephens said. “They saw all the animals that didn’t make the premium sale going on the truck, and wondered how that protein might stay in Brown County.”