Valley First employees spent a sunny Sunday (Sept. 27) morning picking apples and supporting friends of the Okanagan Fruit Tree Project.
The 15 Valley First volunteers harvested 1,500 lbs of apples from a Summerland orchard, boxed them up and delivered them to schools in Penticton and Kaleden for their hot lunch and breakfast programs.
“The team at Valley First was out in force for Make a Difference Days—an annual initiative that encourages employee involvement in community non-profits—in support of the Okanagan Fruit Tree Project,” said Meredith Birchall-Spencer, communication coordinator for Valley First.
The Okanagan Fruit Tree Project is a registered charity that operates in the Central and South Okanagan. Volunteers grow and harvest fruits, vegetables and nuts through farming and gleaning projects. The harvest is then shared among the project’s schools and community organizations that support people who experience household food insecurity.
There has been more than 360,500 pounds of fruits and vegetables harvested since 2012.
“We deliver to food banks, Friendship Centres, the Boys and Girls Club, schools, seniors’ homes and places like the Soupateria in Penticton,” said Lucie Bardos, coordinator for the fruit tree project society.
Like so many other charities this year, they too have been hit hard by COVID.
“We’ve had to limit the amount of volunteers who can harvest,” Bardos said. “The best way to help us this year is to donate money. For every $1 donated, translates to 11 pounds of food.”
The Collaborative Harvest program usually runs one or two times per month with various businesses, community partners, or clients of social agencies.
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