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ATLANTA – Christy Annis is busy packing, wrapping and shipping black-eyed peas across the country for last minute stocking stuffers. And she is looking to the homeless for help.
“It’s a southern tradition to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Eve for prosperity, it goes back to General Sherman during the Civil War,” said Christy Annis, the founder of Peas for Prosperity, an online boutique that sells everything peas.
For more than a decade Annis was an attorney but she gave it all up to pack peas.
“Peas for Prosperity was founded on one principle,” she said. “To help people in need one pea at a time, I wasn’t looking to get rich quick or even start a business. I wanted to make a difference in my community and help others receive their second chance.” She hires homeless men and women on a contract basis- they label, wrap and ship the bags for kitchens across the country. She calls it peas to paychecks.
“The south got their second chance after the Civil War. I’m getting my second chance and that’s why I want to help other people too,” Annis said.
In the past two months, Annis hired about a dozen workers from the Atlanta Community Food Bank as well as troubled teens from the Covenant House Georgia. With their help she has sent out more than one thousand bags since November.
“A lot of these people need to work but they don’t know where to get it,” she said. “Sure, I could have done it through [an assembly line] but it kept tugging on me, it wasn’t what I was about. We need to go back to our roots. We need to bring the jobs back right here at home.” The bags sell between $3.50 and $10.
So, what’s next for Peas for Prosperity? Annis said she has never been busier but she is always looking at what’s next. Today, she is partnering with celebrity chefs and cookbook authors such as Virginia Willis, the author of Bon Appétit, Y’all! Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking.
With their star power and famous recipes, more black-eyed peas could be sold and the money left over will go to a local charity after the workers are paid.
“I want to help other people who are suffering,” she said. “I want to help people who truly want to change their lives and get back on their feet. “