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Fruit drive in San Fernando Valley to help needy families

June 10, 2010 | 10:01 am

If you have fruit trees in your backyard and you live in the San Fernando Valley, you may be able to help families in need this weekend by participating in Citrus Sunday.

The fruit drive, in its fifth year, asks residents to pick citrus from their trees for distribution by food banks to thousands of struggling valley families, the elderly and the disabled.

Spearheaded by Los Angeles City Councilman Greig Smith, the event typically nets thousands of pounds of oranges, grapefruits, tangerines and other citrus crops.

According to Smith, whose 12th District includes Granada Hills, Northridge and other parts of the western San Fernando Valley, studies have found that more than 170,000 valley families “must choose between putting food on the table and paying for transportation, rent, utilities or medication.”

“Food banks provide a lifeline to these people,” Smith said in a statement.

Food banks need produce, but it's expensive, he said. Volunteers do not need to register to participate. They are asked to pick their fruit up to three days in advance of Sunday’s event, wash and dry the produce and secure it in plastic bags.

The fruit can be dropped off Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Fire Station 87, 10124 Balboa Blvd., Northridge; Chatsworth Depot Metrolink Station, 10046 Old Depot Plaza Road; Fire Station 18, 12050 Balboa Blvd., Granada Hills; and Field’s Market, 23221 Saticoy St., West Hills.

The fruit will be distributed by Valley Interfaith Council, a Chatsworth-based nonprofit social services group.

-- Ann M. Simmons