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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Arcadia Weekly / Fruit for All Celebrates First Anniversary Thanks to the Kindness of Strangers

Fruit for All Celebrates First Anniversary Thanks to the Kindness of Strangers

by Terry Miller
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Zach Selby picks oranges for his less fortunate neighbors - Photo by Terry Miller

As we told you a few months ago, not every teenager is preoccupied with texting, computers, video games and Facebook. In fact, when we met Arcadia High School student Zach Selby who spends a good deal of his spare time outdoors in the fresh air helping his fellow man, we were very impressed.
Selby, 17, gets into some physically exacting work, picking fresh fruit from trees, boxing that fruit and delivering the copious yield to places such as the Foothill Unity Center and Los Angeles Mission. – all with a little help from his friends and family and now that dream of his has grown exponentially thanks mostly to the tenacious work ethic of a teenager and the kindness of strangers
Last year Selby, and his brother Jackson, who is a freshman at Arcadia High, decided they needed to do something with the excess fruit their own trees were producing. There was no way they could consume all the trees’ bounty each season so what better thing to do than donate to a food bank.
Consequently a new business grew out of a relatively simple premise. The company – Fruit For All – as it is now known was inescapable. The not-for profit group has been growing gradually but progressively each month as word gets out of this extraordinary endeavor.
This past Saturday, we met up with Zach, his mum Judith and a friend of his from La Canada Flintridge, Casey Thompson, who helped pick 280 pounds of tangerines from a single tree on south Mayflower at the home of Lisa Brock, PTA President of Dana Middle School.
Fruit for All is a non-profit, community harvest group, organized and run by a Zach Selby his family and a growing list of dedicated volunteers. Their main objective is to find people with an abundance of fruit or vegetables, harvest them, let the owner keep what they want, and finally take the fruit to the Foothill Unity Center.
Foothill Unity Center’s executive director, Joan Whitenack said Fruit For All is “an answer to our prayers.” A strong believer in fresh fruits and vegetables, especially local fruit, Whitenack said that she is convinced local fruit will help fight off local allergies and other ailments. The not-uncommon theory that has been tested with time and honored by local gourmet chefs who believe in local, seasonal fruit and vegetables. It simply makes sense, when you think about it.
Foothill Unity Center serves between 600-800 families per week with their Monrovia and Pasadena locations. Whitenack calls Zach Selby’s efforts a “miracle” as fresh fruit and vegetables have such a short shelf life as opposed to canned goods.
By February 5, 2011, the fledgling Fruit For All had donated over 8,000 pounds of fruit to food banks and rescue missions in Los Angeles County.
By the end of this school year they hope to have harvested at least 15,000 pounds.
If you have fruit or vegetables that you don’t know what to do with, please call Fruit for All and they’d be delighted to harvest your produce at your convenience. In addition they are always looking for volunteers as well as cash donations. Judith Selby says they need to get a larger truck in which to transport the ever-growing boxes of fruit harvested.
According to Zach, Jackson, Judith and Brad Selby “We have picked and donated more than 20,000 pounds of fruit since April 11, 2010, when we took my family’s ladder, a fruit picker and some empty boxes to a neighbor’s house to pick his Washington navel oranges. My family and I picked 300 pounds that day, and it felt wonderful, the hard work and the payoff — taking the oranges to the Foothill Unity Center where it was distributed to families struggling to fulfill their food needs.
Since then, we have met some wonderful people who have helped us along our way. One Arcadia woman set up a meeting with friends who encouraged us and bought us new tools so we could expand. An Arcadia man told his friend at the Arcadia Weekly about us, and we ended up in the paper in March 2011. One family in particular jumped into our endeavor with both feet, pushing us to find more ways to grow and donating countless hours picking and talking about Fruit for All. We’ve collected boxes from many generous grocery stores. And Ace Hardware in Duarte and Sierra Madre has given us a break on tool costs. The organizer for the Monrovia Street Fair gave us table space for a few Friday nights before Christmas so we could tell people about Fruit for All. And many PTA presidents have squeezed us into their schedules. We couldn’t have done it without all of this help” said The Selby family. “
Fruit for all would like to create satellite groups that can operate nearly independently of the core founding members. They will be creating a video manual to help other families get started picking fruit in their neighborhoods. A satellite team would be able to canvass its neighborhood for trees, raise money for tools, and pick the fruit — all under the Fruit for All banners.
Southern California is blessed with an abundance of fruit trees, and Fruit for All hopes to continue tapping into that. Thank you for joining our effort.
The best way to contact the group is: fruitforallkids@gmail.com is or Call 626-359-6666.

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