For more than 20 years, the North Okanagan Valley Gleaners Society has been helping to feed hungry people around the world.
The Gleaners now have two processing plants in the Okanagan, one in Oliver and one in the Lavington area. The Oliver operation started in 1994 and the Vernon one in 2007.
Their purpose is to gather (glean) crops that are too small, too large, defective or not suitable for sale and would otherwise go to waste. The product is dried and made into a soup mix that is shipped by various Christian relief organizations to many countries in the world to starving people.
Gleaners is made up of volunteers who gather, process and package the produce donated by many local farmers. They can use volunteer workers at the plant any day Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to noon. If you can help there, call Harold Sellers at the plant at 250-558-5872 for directions or just show up there.
Gleaners also collects used medical equipment which is also shipped by relief organizations to various parts of the world. Also, every year thousands of packages of vegetable seeds are donated by P.N.W. Seeds to Gleaners, which are sent to many countries with the soup mix
To help with the costs to run the processing plant, in 2010 Gleaners opened a used furniture store at 4405-29th St. across from the old Bakers Dozen store. Any donation of furniture you have is appreciated. Pick-up is available if you can’t deliver the donations. The phone number there is 250-549-1123. The store recently purchased the building they were renting and has expanded the operation greatly. If you could volunteer a few hours a week at the store, please call. This store is the major means of support for the plant operation, along with donations from churches, individuals, The Rotary Club and occasional fundraising events.
Gleaners also run an annual campaign to collect new socks, mittens, toques and under garments for kids of all ages. These are shipped with the food or separately to Third World countries. This year they will go to Eastern Europe. Many people enjoy knitting these items or you can purchase them new. New stuffed toys are also accepted. There are collection barrels in most churches, The Schubert Centre, The Gleaners furniture store and plant and at Dollarama stores.
Gleaners would like to thank Lou Abram and her faithful group of knitters and sewers from Grace Bible Church who work all year long to supply Gleaners. So far this year they have produced 2,200 pieces with a goal of 3,000 pieces. Also, this group would appreciate any surplus wool you might have. Call Lou at 250- 545-1294 if you can help. Last year the Okanagan Valley produced 14,600 pieces. Your donations are greatly appreciated, and the last day of collection is Nov. 27.
For more information about any of the programs run by the Gleaners, please call Howie Anhorn at 250-549-1632.