Fresh, healthy fundraising products are California-grown

With childhood health on everyone's mind, nothing seems more old-fashioned (or even out-of-touch) than a candy-based school fundraiser.

Offering a completely different approach, Woodlake Orchards Fundraising helps schools and other organizations reach financial goals using a product California is well known for: fresh produce. The San Joaquin Valley farm helps groups generate funds in a healthy and delicious way with farm-fresh fruits and nuts direct from the state's farmers.

Woodlake Orchards started in the town of Woodlake in 1947 as a dairy. Over the years, it has produced walnuts, oranges, plums, nectarines and olives. Today, the third-generation California farming family helps organizations reach their financial goals by giving them the opportunity set their own profit margins on products they sell. That lets people within each charity apply expertise about their own communities to set the price just right to raise the most funds possible.

For instance, the price for a half carton of navel oranges, about 44 of them, ranges from $13 to $18 dollars for the school or other charity, which sells them at somewhere between $18 and $26, earning about $10 per box. A one-pound bag of English walnuts can earn a profit of $2.50 to $4 per bag.

The company's goal is to provide products at the peak of freshness while also coordinating with busy holiday and school schedules. For example, fresh oranges can be ordered in the fall or in the spring.

For groups that don't have the skills or time to create a whole fundraising campaign, Woodlake Orchards can even organize fundraisers in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

All products come from the Central Valley: The produce Woodlake doesn't grow on its own farm comes from neighboring farmers. Either way, Woodlake products are delivered directly to recipients, with no middlemen.

Although there are several fresh fruit fundraising companies available, a few things set Woodlake Orchards Fundraising apart, including choosing local products.

"Most fresh citrus fundraisers come out of Florida where oranges are grown primarily for juicing," the company's website notes. "California oranges are typically easier to section for eating."

Participants spend two to four weeks taking orders and collecting money, and then they give the orders to Woodlake Orchards. After the delivery date and final pricing is set, participants are notified when a delivery truck is en route.

The school or other charity earns much-needed funds, while customers get nutritious farm-fresh treats without the guilt of those candy fundraisers of yesteryear. Pretty sweet.

For more information visit <a href='http://fundraisingfresh.com/about.html' target='_blank'>http://fundraisingfresh.com/about.html</a>.

-Alicia Doyle, Tribune Content Solutions

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