The fruit project began about 10 years ago when Ken and Melhina Thibault, who had both lived in Prince George, purchased a small orchard in Osoyoos. On trips back to Prince George they donated fruit to the St. Vincent de Paul Drop-in Centre.
Each year the donation increased as the Thibaults invited their neighbours to become involved.
In recent years the transportation of the fruit has been accomplished with the collaboration of the Elks Lodges of Osoyoos, Kamloops and Prince George, also Jack and Bernie Goold from the St. Vincent de Paul organization, who have been responsible for organizing the distribution to the Elks clubs over the years.
In September 2011 Ken and Melhina from Casa Del Mell Orchards and Joe and Vera Hilario of Light House Orchards donated over 9,300 pounds, nearly 10 tons of apples and pears to St. Vincent de Paul Society.
This year the orchard owners are donating approximately 14,000 pounds of fruit. Approximately half is being shared with other communities, Williams Lake, Quesnel, MacKenzie, McBride, Vanderhoof, Fort. St. James and Burns Lake.
Although Burns Lake doesn’t have an Elks club they added Burns lake to the list because of the Babine Forest Products disaster.
Laurie Maier, Carlos Green and Wayne Scoville from the Elks Club delivered a load of apples to the Lakes District Food Bank.
In turn the food bank distributed boxes of apples to Grassy Elementary, Francois Lake School, CNC, Lakes District Secondary School, William Konkin Elementary School, Decker Lake Elementary School and Lake Babine Nation.
The remaining 10 boxes will be distributed through the regular distributions at the food bank.