By Galen Patterson
Incoming Arcadia High School senior Andre Yeung had experience feeding the homeless. He found himself making sandwiches for them and passing them out directly to the hungry while serving his community in the Boy Scouts of America.
At the same time, his family home in Arcadia had an avocado tree, and Andre had an innate love for avocados. Andre says he tries to eat as many as he can but there are always too many to eat.
Andre then realized that practically everyone that lived on his street had fruit-bearing trees and most likely had the same problem. “I just sort of connected the dots there,” said Andre. He then collaborated with his sister Ashley, and Fruit for Homeless was born in 2017.
They first started picking the fruit and donating it to local food banks like the Foothill Community Center, then started working with larger, regional non-profits like LA On Cloud 9.
Today, Fruit for Homeless is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, meaning it is a legitimate, government-recognized charity. It has more than a dozen members and growing, and has social media exposure.
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#Peaches are in season! Delivered ~100 lbs rosy aromatic peaches freshly picked from the backyard of our #generous #donors, Ms Deb Ogden & Mr Stuart Lovi. Thx @foothillunitycenter again for the referrals. #homelessness #LAhomeless #homeless #low-income #families #volunteering #community #services #students #teens #youth #donation #empower #engage #enlighten #MakeAChange #teamwork
Fruit for Homeless works like this: People with fruit trees find them through their website, social media, or word of mouth. Fruit for Homeless then sets up a date and time when they can pick up the produce. On the day of, a crew of around five volunteers brings their picking equipment, consisting of ladders and pickers to the scheduled home, and once finished, they give the homeowner seeds of different types to help them keep growing for the homeless.
From there, the produce will be delivered to different organizations that will help distribute the produce. Sometimes, Fruit for Homeless will distribute the produce themselves directly to those who need it. Andre says he enjoys this aspect of their work, seeing the satisfaction and joy in the faces of those he serves.
Andre is beginning his final year in public education. Ashley is only a year behind him as an incoming junior at Arcadia High. The officers of Fruit for Homeless are also in the same age range and will soon be off to different schools and paths in life but Fruit for Homeless is set up to run when Andre graduates. Ashley is expected to take over operation.
George Kasabyan and Hailey Cheng are ranking members of Fruit for Homeless. Kasabyan wants to expand the organization and is looking into opening a branch or similar enterprise where he ends up in higher education.
Cheng sees her work with Fruit for Homeless as a way to create change in a positive way and help the environment. Prior to joining the organization, she started an environmental petition to help the planet. Whether or not she continues with Fruit for Homeless is somewhat irrelevant to her because she plans to do this type of work anywhere she goes.
Special shout to @foothillunitycenter again for referring us to another #peach donor, Mr. Stuart Lovi! We’re so blessed to have #community support! #homelessness #LAhomeless #homeless #volunteering #services #students #teens #youth #donation #empower #engage #enlighten pic.twitter.com/WrYQlMeQHi
— Fruit For Homeless (@fruit4homeless) August 4, 2019
Fruit for Homeless is always looking for more fruit to pick, if you or someone you know has extra fruit growing on trees, contact Fruit for Homeless through their twitter handle @fruit4homeless, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call/text (626) 487-8929.