Vernon Restholm staff member Anna Marie Castro (clockwise from front left)

Vernon Restholm staff member Anna Marie Castro (clockwise from front left)

Knitters get crafty for the Gleaners

The North Okanagan Valley Gleaners rely on the community to provide warm clothing for children in need around the world

The North Okanagan Valley Gleaners are busy all year fulfilling their mission of helping to alleviate hunger around the world.

“Gleaners is made up of Christian volunteers who gather, process and package the surplus produce donated by many local farmers,” said Howie Anhorn, with the Gleaners.

The group now runs two processing plants, one in Oliver that has been operating since 1994 and one in the Lavington area that has been going since 2007.

“Their purpose is to gather (glean) crops that are damaged or left in the fields and that would otherwise go to waste. The product is dried and made into a soup mix that is shipped by various relief organizations around the world to starving people.”

Volunteers are always needed at the plant, Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to noon. If you can help, call Eileen at 250-545-1672  or the plant at 250-558-5872 for directions.

Gleaners also collects used medical equipment which is shipped by relief organizations  to various parts of the world. Also, every year thousands of packages of 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 of running the processing plant, such as electricity and gas, the Gleaners opened a used furniture store in 2010.

“This store, and other donations, is the only means of support for the food processing plant,” said Anhorn, who is happy to answer questions at 250-549-1632.

And at this time of year, the volunteer-run organization is also kept busy helping to keep children warm around the world.

Gleaners 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, and this year they will go to eastern Europe,” said Anhorn. “Many people enjoy knitting these items or you can purchase them new. Your donations are greatly appreciated.”

Last year, the Okanagan Valley produced 13,000 pieces. There are collection barrels in most North Okanagan churches, the Schubert Centre and The Gleaners furniture store. Last day of collection is Nov. 30.

The Gleaners used furniture and appliance store celebrates its fourth anniversary with a sale Oct. 27 to Nov. 1, and everyone is invited to drop by and enjoy the savings while helping the Gleaners.

The store has grown from its humble beginnings at the old Kal Tire building to its present location at 4405-29th St., across from Carpet Castle.

“We have seen significant growth, especially in the last years,” said Jim Vandertas, with the Gleaners. “God has blessed our efforts beyond all of our expectations and continues to open the hearts of the people from the North Okanagan valley with donations.

“And we can’t forget our volunteers — they are certainly appreciated because without those volunteers we would not function a lot of time.”

Volunteers are always needed and most welcome.

Any donation of furniture is  appreciated, and pick-up is available, if drop-off is not convenient — call 250-549-1123.

“With great joy we have our own pickup cube van, which was donated, that is keeping us very busy with pick-ups, usually on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” said Vandertas. “Again we would like to thank all our donors to make this our biggest year ever.”