Wish List: Fields of Grace seeks financial help to continue collecting fruit, vegetables for food banks

Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldDecember 22, 2013 

Wish Fields of Grace

Artist Melitta Frost of West Richland holds up one of the handmade card she designed as a holiday fundraiser for the Fields of Grace program. Alissa Watkins, the founder and executive director of Fields of Grace, is standing at her left.

BOB BRAWDY — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

Fields of Grace needs a bit of financial help to keep collecting fresh fruits and vegetables from farmers to deliver to area food banks.

The Richland-based agency seeks to raise $6,000 for operating expenses, vehicle fuel and insurance, said Executive Director Alissa Watkins, the only paid employee.

The fundraiser, called "Giving the Gift of Food," seeks donations of $25, $50, $75 and $100. As a thank you, donors get a custom Christmas card designed by West Richland artist Melitta Frost and put together by Watkins and a group of volunteers.

"We were looking for a year-end fundraiser that didn't require an event," Watkins said. "For most of us, we want to give a meaningful gift and get a taxable donation, as well."

A $25 donation will provide 400 servings of fruits and vegetables to the needy, Watkins said.

"We feel like this is a really great value, and it's appreciated by our food banks," she said.

Fields of Grace is faith-based, but inclusive, drawing volunteers from more than 40 churches and secular groups in the Tri-Cities.

"That kind of makes it feel more than a ministry at a church, with only its congregation members," Watkins said. "We have reached out to different organizations and businesses in the community."

Fields of Grace works with growers like Douglas Fruit, which allows the agency to collect apples from its packing house in Pasco, she said. It also collects unsold produce from the farmers markets in Pasco, Kennewick and Richland.

Since 2006, Fields of Grace has collected 800,000 pounds of food, providing 2.5 million servings, she said. It collected 200,000 pounds in 2013.

The agency has a couple hundred active volunteers, but would still like more when it comes time to glean fields, Watkins said.

"There have been times we have gone to harvest an orchard and we had to leave fruit on the trees because we didn't have people to pick them," she said.

Fields of Grace cannot guarantee delivery of the cards by Christmas this late in the season, but it still welcomes donations, Watkins said.

For information on donating, call 392-1455 or go to www.fields-of-grace.com.

w Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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