Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Diablo Magazine writer, Martha Ross - March 11, 2009

The Lemon Lady of Contra Costa
Stay-at-home Clayton mom devises simple but clever do-it-herself idea for getting fresh fruit into the hands of our community's hungry.
By Martha Ross

Courtesy of Radar at

Anna Chan is one of those simply kind, thoughtful people who goes out of her way to help other people.
I first heard about her via two of my favorite local East Bay bloggers, and Mister Writer. She was involved in some personal advocacy on behalf of a young girl, Katie Grace Groebner, who suffers from pulmonary hypertension, ultimately requiring a heart and lung transplant.
Anna, busy herself with a very active 2-year-old daughter, Ava, helped Katie Grace by drafting more than 50 letters to media outlets, nonprofits, and businesses. She managed to garner donations of tickets and passes to fun kids’ activities such as tickets to the Oakland Zoo.
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. She started out by leaving letters at the homes of people in and around Clayton, asking them if they have trees bearing ripe fruit that they can spare. In her letter, Anna says “I often drive past your house on my way to Grandma’s and notice your fruit trees 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 local food pantries. They appreciate fruit donations."
Anna, with some toddler-style help from Ava, also offers to come pick your fruit herself. Of course, sometimes Ava begs off with a nap, and "Daddy or Grandma" sit in the car with Ava while Anna gathers the fruit.
"The other day, we all went out as a family," she e-mailed me. "After lunch, Ava fell asleep, so I knew of a house close by where I already had permission to pick the oranges and lemons. Daddy sat in the car and read a book. Ava slept. And, I picked 50 pounds of fruit! It was easy. It's always thrilling when I meet new people and they are so kind and generous. That is what makes the world a better place."
Anna then donates it to local nonprofits, including to the Monument Crisis Center in Concord and the Salvation Army at the Concord Community Church.
After several weeks in operation, the Anna/Ava project has gathered more than 1,000 pounds of fruit. Anna has also begun sending some letters out the neighborhoods in Walnut Creek's Ygnacio Valley. "Last night, I received my very first reply from a Walnut Creek resident," she emailed me the other day.
If you have some extra fruit hanging on backyard or frontyard trees that you don’t know what to do with, you can send Anna an e-mail. She can be can be reached

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