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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.

Anna Chan of Clayton

Anna Chan of Clayton

Courtesy of Radar at Claycord.com

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, Claycord.com 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 AnnaAndAva@gmail.com.

Posted at 12:00 PM - Mar 11, 2009 in Best Of Editor Picks | Permalink

Old to new | New to old
Mar 11, 2009 07:01 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Thanks for giving Anna this notice. She has the best heart, and she provides an example for how all of us, in big or small ways, can make a difference!

Mar 12, 2009 12:49 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Way to go..I moved to Concord 5 years ago and are surrounded with this Citrus as well. I have been bringing it to nursing homes. They so enjoy it.Some of the people in our neighborhood post a sign saying please take...Hope others are inspired by this and put out boxes or signs as well..Please don't let it waste,hard times or not.Beverly

Mar 20, 2009 02:15 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Just wanted to share the KGO radio broadcast. Bret Burkhart interviewed Anna Chan, The Lemon Lady, on location at the Salvation Army Concord Community Church, Concord, CA. This can also be listened to on the KGO website.


Apr 24, 2009 12:26 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

The Lemon Lady has a new blog!

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