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February 16, 2009

Local hero: Clayton woman finds simple but ingenious way to get fresh fruit into the hands of hungry, needy area families.

Anna Chan is a stay-at-home mom with a 2-year-old daughter. I’ve profiled her before, and so have blogging friends, the Mayor of Claycord and Mister Writer, for her work on behalf of Katie Grace Groebner, the young local girl who suffers from a rare disorder and needs a heart-and-lung transplant.

Now, Anna has a new one-mom, one-daughter project, and it seeks to benefit the growing number of people in our area who need food assistance in these tough economic times. Here’s how Anna explains it herself in a letter she hands out to neighbors, and which was published on Claycord.com.


"My name is Anna. I am a stay-at-home Mommy to my precious 2-year-old daughter, Ava. Though, I have lived and worked in Concord / Clayton for almost
15 years. Please don't just throw my letter in the garbage!

"I often drive past your house on the way to Grandma's house. I notice you have fruit trees which are filled with a healthy crop. I am wondering if you will be harvesting all the fruit for your own family. Or, would you be so kind to pick a few bags for me to deliver to a local food pantry, shelter, church, or other families in need?

"I enjoy helping others and continue brainstorming for ways I can make a positive difference in my very own neighborhood. This is a non-profit venture, with absolutely no budget. I would also be happy to pick the fruit myself, especially from trees that are low to the ground. Either way is fine, just let me know!

"In between running errands, Ava's naps in the car seat, activities at the library or playground, this seemed like an ideal opportunity to at least knock on your door to inquire. Otherwise, I may never know. In only a few short months you may have a bounty of rotten fruit gone to waste in your front yard.

"I welcome any thoughts or help you will offer in this regard.

"Sincerely, Anna Chan, E-mail: AnnaAndAva@gmail.com"

Anna sent me an e-mail on Friday, saying she picked fruit at four different houses in the Cape Cod area, on Concord Boulevard, and two houses off of Clayton Road.

She says she gathered Meyer lemons, oranges, and pale yellow lemons—"in all about 150 pounds! Including the last two days, I am now at 300 plus pounds towards my goal of a thousand pounds. How exciting! Today was a good day. I received one new e-mail from a person wanting to donate tangerines."
(Pictured above is some of the citrus that Anna harvested herself--with the help of Ava, of course.)
Anna has donated about 139 pounds of fruit to the Monument Crisis Center in Concord. The next day, she donated about 30 pounds of lemon to the Salvation Army at the Concord Community Church on Clayton Road. “They are wonderful there. One of the things I admired, is that they serve the ‘needy, not the greedy’ was what the receptionist told me. They have an application process to actually verify need.”


In writing about Anna’s amazing project, I see that the Contra Costa Times today has an article this morning about how Bay Area food banks are busier than ever as the economy tanks. Notably, they are seeing more and more people who never thought they would be in need of this kind of help.


Meanwhile, some good news comes from Larry Sly, executive director of the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. In a commentary he wrote for the Times on Saturday, he says his organization entered this holiday fundraising season with “trepidation.” But, he says, “To our great surprise, the community donated as never before. In faltering economic times, the Food Bank experienced record-breaking food and fund donations. … As an example, employees of Contra Costa and Solano counties, who faced staff and budget cuts themselves, collected over $115,000 in their annual Holiday Food Fight.”


So, with Anna as one shining example, it seems that our suburban communities, even in these tough times, when all of us knows someone who has lost a job or a home, or we ourselves have lost jobs and even homes, are pulling together to help those who are the most in need.


5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful to read how 1 person can make such a difference. It insires us to think less of ourselves and more of others. Thanks

Anna said...

Thank you for such kind words Soccer Mom. I only hope others find inspiration and follow my lead. Oftentimes, people just don't know little things they can do.

Also, it can be difficult to volunteer by appointment. This was something I am able to do at random in between running errands, in between Ava's naps and meal times. I always have my letters handy in my vehicle.

I have recently contacted the Girl Scouts by e-mail.

Radar, Claycord's wonderful photographer has provided some helpful thoughts to contact the Scout troops in our area. I just cannot believe that I am the only one doing this. There must be others...

When I hear more, I will definitely let you know!

Perhaps other news outlets will encourage fruit tree owners to donate to the food banks. I really believe that publicity is lacking in that regard. People are just unaware.

Anonymous said...

This is a really nice story, about one person who is making a difference. In a way that's not all the complicated. What a great idea. I think the people most in need are the ones usually denied access to fresh fruit and veggies. Anna is trying to address that. Good for you Anna.

MisterWriter said...

Well done, Anna.

Soccer Mom said...

Thanks, Anna, to alerting me to your valuable service to the community. It was an honor to post this.