Gatto selects Burbank resident as 'Woman of the Year'

Helena David of Burbank has been picking fruit and donating it to the needy for more than a year. This week, Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) picked her for a special state recognition.

David was selected as the 43rd Assembly District's “Woman of the Year,” and she will be honored with other state recipients at a daylong celebration in Sacramento on Monday.

David started a campaign in January 2011 to pick fruit from private yards with her husband, Scott, and deliver it to local food pantries, schools and homeless shelters. Her goal was to collect 100,000 pieces of fruit by January 2012.

She created the nonprofit organization Those Who Care, and her son, Aaron, designed a website for people to contact her. In January, she surpassed her goal, reaching 106,000, and now is starting on her second batch of 100,000.

“What a clever, driven and caring person,” Gatto said. “People don't always take the time to praise someone who does something good. I could not let this year pass without honoring her in some way.”

David was surprised to receive the honor, saying she doesn't feel she had done anything special.

“Everybody is capable of doing what I'm doing, and other women do a lot more than I do,” David said. “I believe if you don't need something, pass it along. Why let it go to waste? If more people would pick their own fruit and donate it, there would be a lot more fruit for people who need it.”

David will be recognized as part of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus “Woman of the Year” celebration at 10 a.m. Monday at the state Capitol. She will spend the day with Gatto, be treated to a brunch reception with other statewide honorees, and will be recognized on the Assembly Floor for her contributions to the community.

-- Joyce Rudolph, For Times Community News

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