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Effort seeks to harvest excess citrus to feed needy
Victor Chavez helped harvest surplus citrus last winter through 2nd Saturday. - photo by HIME ROMERO

There are countless thousands in the South County struggling to get enough to eat everyday let alone fresh citrus.

One solution is free but it’s going to waste.

It involves excess oranges, grapefruit and other citrus left to rot on trees in yards throughout Manteca. Typically the trees yield too much fruit for owners to use. And in a number of cases the owners can’t reach the citrus in the higher branches.

Jim Todd of Crossroad Grace’s outreach ministry effort dubbed 2nd Saturday hopes people will give up three hours of their time this Saturday in an effort to harvest as much of the citrus as they can. It will then be taken to various food distribution sites and shelters. Last year 2nd Saturday harvested 9.5 tons that was distributed to needy families and elderly seniors on limited income that can’t afford fresh citrus. They hope to surpass 10 tons this year.

The effort has made a big difference for food banks during the past four years that are finding it tougher and tougher to meet the demand created by regional unemployment pushing 14 percent.

Citrus harvesting volunteers are being asked- if they can - to bring any hand towels or car wash towels that they can donate for the project to help clean the fruit. Also if individuals can supply ladders six-foot and over and pickup truck beds to use for the day it would be appreciated.

For those who are willing to climb trees, it is suggested that they wear Levis, long sleeves or a sweatshirt since citrus trees do have thorns.

A briefing sheet and a release form can be found at under 2nd Saturday that can be taken with you when you arrive for the briefing Saturday by 8:45 a.m. at the church on Moffat Boulevard between Woodward Avenue and Spreckels Avenue.

Teams will depart for work sites at 9 a.m. and will finish about noon. or shortly thereafter.

The simple philosophy that there are no physical boundaries to a church gave birth to Crossroads Grace Church’s 2nd Saturday community outreach.

Hundreds of church members – along with community volunteers who elect to help  – set aside four hours the second Saturday of each month to do everything from helping the elderly with small home maintenance projects to helping maintain landscaping along the Tidewater Bikeway.

Other projects this Saturday include visiting patients at a convalescent hospital, assembling hygiene kits for the homeless, and helping reorganize LoveINC’s donation area.

Citrus harvesting will take place on four dates - Jan. 13, Feb. 9, March 9, and April 13. Organizers are hoping to line up 300 volunteers on Feb. 9. The focus for that Saturday will be exclusively on citrus harvesting. It is when the bulk of the fruit that ends up going to waste is at its peak for harvesting.