Local Church Shells Out More than $400,000 for Community Charities

For more than 20 years, Bethlehem United Methodist Church in Moneta has been selling specialty peanuts to fund local nonprofit organizations and mission projects. “We’ve cooked, shipped and packaged more than 250,000 jars of nuts,” says Charlie Walker, one of the church volunteers. The church website (bethlehemunitedmethodist.org/a-nutty-idea) says they’ve raised more than $400,000 since 1999.

Three crews of six people each cook the peanuts in a building behind the church. “We call it the Nut House,” says Walker. “It’s a real social event when we cook, usually about twice a month. We sell a case of 12 jars for $30 and we’ve held that price for the last 15 years.” 

The crews package and ship the cases of peanuts, while individual jars are sold at the church or directly through Walker himself. “We have business customers, and we supply weddings, anniversaries and other parties,” he notes. “We have lots of repeat customers.” 

Nuttin’ better
For the businesses that sell the peanuts, the church uses a side label. For individual sales, the label is on the lid of the jar. “There’s no extra cost for the label,” says Walker. “You can put ‘Merry Christmas from the Smiths’ or whatever type of personalization you want.” Customers can opt for several different personalized labels, even when purchasing the case of peanuts. 

The church volunteers use Virginia peanuts and fry them in oil in a deep fryer for several minutes. Then, they pour the nuts into bowls and remove the excess oil with paper towels. Next, they stir in the specialty flavoring and package them in jars. Customers have the choice of six flavors: unsalted, salted, Cajun (hot, but not too hot), Down by the Bay (Old Bay seasoning), Gold Dominion (butter-flavored salt) and Smokin’ Joe (the hot one!).

Get your peanuts!
To order the nuts, call the church at 540-297-7957. A quality product and profits that go to charitable endeavors … now that’s something to go nuts over!