One woman’s yearlong quest to use backyard harvests to feed the needy has yielded more than 106,000 oranges, avocados, tangerines and other fruit — and she’s not done yet..
Helena David and her team, including her husband, Scott, started harvesting fruit from the backyards of willing property owners in January 2011, delivering the fruit to nonprofit food distributors throughout the Los Angeles area.
After her story appeared in the Leader, people started contacting her to pick their trees of fruit that would usually fall to the ground or be left on branches.
A year later, Helena David estimates the project has provided about $100,000-worth of produce to the needy via the Burbank Temporary Aid Center, the Salvation Army, Ascencia, the Boys & Girls Club and the North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry.
The Davids say they will continue the program as long as they’re able and get requests.
“It feels good to see people happy — that an orange can make someone smile,” Scott David said.
The pair has kept the operation going despite setbacks of their own. A stroke suffered three years ago makes the fruit picking for Helena David difficult, as do excruciating headaches.
These days, she spends less time climbing trees and more time sorting and counting. She no longer drives, so Scott David does most of the labor and carting around deliveries.
He has the time because his construction company isn't pulling in new jobs. Sometimes, he said he doesn't know where the money will come from for the gas to deliver the citrus. Their roof needs repair and the mortgage is a monthly challenge.
But they continue picking fruit and shopping for bargains on peanut butter and noodle cups to donate to local food pantries.
They stay motivated, Scott David said, because they see how grateful the recipients are.
“They are so grateful and have a big smile on their faces,” Helena David said. “They come over and squeeze us.”
The fruit project is far from finished, Scott David said, but he's proud of what his wife has been able to accomplish so far.
“They say it takes a village to raise a child, but sometimes it takes a child to take care of a village,” he said.
To donate fruit, visit www.thosewhocare.info or call (424) 999-8926.