Another citrus record! Over 50 tons of fruit donated to St. Mary’s Food Bank

This is what 20,000 pounds of citrus looks like!

This is what 20,000 pounds of citrus looks like!

Thanks to hundreds of Sun Lakers, the Sun Lakes Citrus Sharers were able to donate approximately 100,000 pounds (50 tons) of fruit to St. Mary’s Food Bank. Most was picked by volunteers in our organization. And we are so grateful that many homeowners picked and delivered their own fruit.

Most of it was picked by our crews of volunteers led by our very talented and fearless captains Dave Smits, Sheila Sellers, Joe Tighe, Duane Ticknor, Jeannie Kulander, Tom and Pat Giroux and Laura Harrald. Each Saturday and Monday morning, seven teams of five to seven volunteers ventured forth and brought back as much fruit as they could pick to one of our two Citrus Centrals. This year was the first time we were not able to pick everyone on the Waiting List. We apologize, but we just didn’t have enough volunteers to meet the increasing demand.

We are grateful for the many donations we have had this year to help us pay for supplies and equipment. These things have a limited lifetime.

We all celebrated on the evening of March 23 at the home of Arlene and Jim Thrower, who have been kind enough to open their garage to this multitude of fruit for the past five years. They are phasing out of this role and we are eagerly looking for another generous homeowner who would like to take their place. Due to increased fruit, this year we added a second Citrus Central. It was hosted by George and Christy Thomas who have done a fabulous job in this their first year.

Pearl Ryan has inherited data base duties from Bob Coats this year. She figures that our volunteers picked fruit at approximately 450 houses. Our data base goes back five years. Pearl organizes which captains pick which houses, clustering them by proximity. She’s a marvel! We also picked fruit at many new houses that called in this year and are on a waiting list. This year, for the first time, we didn’t have enough volunteers to pick everyone who was on the waiting list. We apologize.

Taking phone calls from homeowners who want to volunteer and those who would like to be picked is not an easy task. We thank our veterans, Linda Everett and her mom, Betty Ford. We also thank our rookie caller, Roxy Banta. Their patience and resolve in getting all the facts straight and keeping us organized have been invaluable.

So now our buckets, bags, picking poles and other supplies are tucked away under the watchful eye of George and Christy Thomas, Les and Maggie Klingberg and Tom and Pat Giroux. They will be ready for returning and new volunteers next year. Ask any volunteer and they will tell you how much fun it is to pick and how rewarding it is to know that the fruit will go to people in need. Please consider joining in our effort next year as a picker or as a host garage for Citrus Central.