March 14, 2005
Jarek Carroll picked his Eagle Scout project: Harvest the East Valley’s unused bumper crop of citrus to help the needy.
So far, 80 volunteers the Queen Creek 13-year-old organized have spent 233 hours picking oranges, tangerines and other fruit for the United Food Bank.
They’ve donated nine bins at 1,200 pounds each. His goal is 10 bins.
"It helps make a positive influence for people in the community who might not have the means to get fresh fruit otherwise," said the Santan K-8 eighth-grader, who is also involved in the 4-H Club, National Junior Honor Society and plays viola in the school orchestra.
The United Food Bank’s goal is to collect one million pounds of fresh citrus. They have gathered 750,000 pounds already. The fruit will be given out in areas that don’t have the "luxury of having citrus in their back yard," said CEO Bob Evans.
"It’s such good stuff and it’s really well received," Evans said. "We’re entering the end of this year’s season with the trees already in bloom and we need to get a real push on this last bit."
The United Food Bank, based in Mesa, serves the East Valley in Maricopa County, Gila and Pinal counties and the southern half of Apache and Navajo counties.
Jay Carroll, Jarek’s dad, said the project has helped his son get out of his "comfort zone." Jarek was able to get Bashas’ to donate $100 to buy food for the volunteers on fruit-picking days.
"There’s a need and an opportunity with a lot of unused fruit," he said. "Not only has it been a good leadership opportunity for him but he’s been able to satisfy the needy."
Those interested in donating can drop off their picked citrus at Jarek’s house, 18702 E. Cloud Road, east of Power Road, where he will have bins set up on his driveway. Or call (480) 987-1296 to get a bin of your own. The food bank will pick up the filled bins.
Fruit can also be dropped off at the food bank, 358 E. Javelina Ave., Mesa, at the Maricopa County Southeast Facility off Mesa Drive, south of U.S. 60.
For information about the United Food Bank, call (480) 926-4897.