Wednesday, August 23, 2017
For over 40 years, the Odell Lions Club has sold apples and pears as their major fundraiser. This year the project, known as Applerama, is in danger of cancelation, according to Chuck Bugge of Lions.
Wes Bailey, Diamond Fruit Company purchasing coordinator, recently informed the club that Diamond would not be able to provide cold storage facilities this fall, as the company plans to demolish a storage building heavily damaged in last winter’s storm. A replacement facility will not be completed until 2018. Diamond Fruit has generously donated storage space for most of the 40 years of the fruit sale and alternate storage is at a premium throughout the valley.
CAN YOU HELP?
Call 541-490-1470 if you know of available storage space.
Bugge recently informed club members that an alternate site for this year is necessary by the end of August as fruit is scheduled to begin arriving the first week in September. Any community member knowledgeable of available cold storage can contact the Odell Lions Club at 541-490-1470.
For Applerama, local orchardists donate a variety of apples and pears. Odell Lions Club members and volunteers sort, box and transport the fruit to selected Portland sites in mid-October. Proceeds from the sale are used to fund local student scholarships, sponsor Little Leagues teams, assist with eye exams and glasses and a host of other community projects.
Applerama started in the late 1960s, when the late Ted Webber, Odell Lions secretary, convinced the club that it could make money selling apples in Portland. They received several fruit bins of apples, packaged them in cardboard boxes and drove their pickup to shopping center parking lots. They sold the apples from the back of the pickup for several years and built up a list of repeat customers.
As the project grew in the 1970s, flatbeds and larger trucks were used to haul the apples to Portland. The customer base asked Webber to let them know ahead of time of the apple sale, so an advanced sale postcard was developed and is still used today. Over 500 postcards are mailed in September notifying loyal customers of the date and specific locations. G.I. Joes was a favorite sale location until the company was sold and getting parking lot permission continues to be an ongoing challenge.
Pears were added to the mix in the late ‘90s and sales have increased each year. Last year, the club sold fruit at Walmart, Home Depot, and two Harbor Freight locations.
Bugge said, “Receiving fruit is an ongoing operation as most orchardists deliver the apples and pears to the packing house.
“When we have 10-15 bins, we begin sorting and packing the apples in 25-pound boxes that are then again stored for sale. The evening before the sale, we rent four U-Haul trucks and begin loading the boxed apples and pears.
“We have a traditional breakfast at Cascade Locks, pick up additional helpers and are at the site at 9 a.m. for waiting customers. At some sites, the line extends the length of the parking lot, waiting with their notice card in hand. They need to turn in the card so they will be notified the next year. On good years, we are sold out by noon and on poor years, we return with unsold fruit. We then try to market to youth and church groups in the Portland area.”
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