Gleaning team rescues fallen homeowner (March 16, 2004)

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Gleaning team rescues fallen homeowner

March 16, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140     Orlando  {0041}

Gleaning dates back to Biblical times.

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

TITUSVILLE - After gleaning fruit trees at four homes Jan. 31 Marjorie Pocock didn't expect anything to be different when she and her team from Mims United Methodist Church here arrived at the home of an elderly woman who lived alone.

Pocock knocked on the door to inform the woman the group was there to pick the fruit from her orange trees and only heard a faint tapping noise in response. A second try resulted in the same answer, so Pocock sent her husband to a neighbor's house for a spare key.

The neighbor didn't have a key, but called the woman's house. There was no answer.

"I decided we needed to call 911 and told them the situation and that I didn't know what we needed," Pocock recalled. "They sent everybody, and the police ended up breaking in and found her on the floor where she had fallen on Thursday."

The woman, who is a member of Mims United Methodist Church and has been on the church's sick and shut-in list for at least a year, had become disoriented and fallen. She had been lying on her floor from the time of the fall until the team found her that Saturday. She was taken to a local hospital and is now recuperating in a nursing home, according to Pocock, who said she has gone to visit the woman and check on her progress.

"I'm just glad we were there," Pocock said. "We went on to glean about 10 or 12 homes. All in all, it was a good day."

TITUSVILLE - Society of St. Andrew volunteers load citrus picked from trees in Brevard County Jan. 31 during the largest gleaning project of the year. More than 450 volunteers collected grapefruit, limes, lemons and oranges, which were distributed to the needy throughout the state. Photo by Brian Backus, Photo #04-0012.

Pocock and the other volunteers who participated in the gleaning project picked 130,000 pounds of fruit in Brevard County, according to Kathy Forth, Florida program coordinator for the Society of St. Andrew. She said another 138,000 pounds was gleaned in Orlando, and the following weekend 130,800 pounds was collected in Charlotte County. The grapefruit, limes, lemons and oranges collected are given to those in need throughout the state.

Gleaning is the traditional Biblical practice of gathering crops that would otherwise be left in the fields to rot or be plowed under after harvest. It is based on Deuteronomy 24:19, which says, "When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be left for the alien, the orphan, and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all your undertakings."

The food is edible, but can't be sold for various market reasons or properly harvested by their owners, which is the case for many homeowners who have several trees on their property.

ORLANDO - Volunteers load citrus gleaned from area homeowners' trees at College Park United Methodist Church here as part of the Society of St. Andrew's Jan. 31 gleaning event. Kathy Forth, the ministry's Florida program coordinator, said 138,000 pounds of fruit was gleaned in Orlando, with another 130,000 pounds collected in Brevard County. The grapefruit, limes, lemons and oranges were distributed to the needy throughout the state. Photo by Michael Wacht, Photo #04-0013.

The gleaning network coordinates volunteers, growers and distribution agencies to salvage food for the needy. Each year 35,000 volunteers from churches, synagogues, scout troops, senior citizen groups and others participate in the Society of St. Andrew's gleaning activities, salvaging more than 11 million pounds of produce for the poor around the globe.

Forth, a member of Azalea United Methodist Church in Orlando, said the January date was the largest gleaning effort of the year, but the practice continues throughout the year for other produce.

"We get people by cold-calling people with fruit and vegetables and also from people we have gleaned who refer us to their friends," Forth said. "Right now we have more people needing to be gleaned than we have volunteers. If someone has a heart for missions, we could use them."

Jan Lichtenwalter is one of those people. She and her husband became involved in the gleaning network eight years ago when they lived in Maryland and continued the practice when they moved to Florida.

"It's a great way to connect with all kinds of people in the community," said Lichtenwalter, a member of First United Methodist Church, Titusville. "We wanted to help our children understand we have been entrusted not only with money, but with the world around us, the earth, the environment. We wanted them to understand stewardship is about time and hospitality, as well as money. The Society of St. Andrew does so much great work in this country and all over the world."

Frances Megargle knows all about the Society of St. Andrew. The Orlando resident called the organization about her pink grapefruit tree after reading about it in a newspaper article three years ago.

"I have a disability, and I can't pick any of the fruit," Megargle said. "I look forward to it. It's a blessing that the young people will volunteer to do that for us. I've told several of my friends, and they are very pleased, as well. I've given their name out quite a bit."

Bob Gibson enjoys helping people like Megargle. He has been a volunteer with Society of St. Andrew for about three years.

ORLANDO - Volunteers gleaned 138,000 pounds of citrus from area homeowners' trees Jan. 31 as part of a Society of St. Andrew gleaning event, according to Kathy Forth, the ministry's Florida program coordinator. Another 130,000 pounds was collected in Brevard County. The grapefruit, limes, lemons and oranges were distributed to the needy throughout the state. Photo by Michael Wacht, Photo #04-0014.

"I know the families are very happy when someone comes out," said the member of St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Orlando. "Sometimes they have so much they don't know what to do with all of it after they have given all they can away. Sometimes what is left over is hundreds of pounds. It's all about the food salvage business."

Grace Buchwald of Orlando said salvaging the food is much better than allowing it to rot on the tree. She found the organization after an exhaustive search through the Yellow Pages when a social service agency referred her to the organization. That was three years ago and now Buchwald looks forward to participating.

"I've just been so glad that they have come out to pick it," Buchwald said. "People always say it's the most delicious grapefruit they have ever had. I just hate to see it go to waste."

For more information about the Society of St. Andrew call Forth at 800-806-0756 or visit


This article relates to Missions.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.

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