The recent cessation of dried fruit sales at the Blackwood Uniting Church marked the end of an innovative venture which ran for 15 years.
It was an initiative of John Lee and his late wife Helen who first sourced fruit from Tony and Sandy Loffler in the Riverland on 5 December 2006. Mary Thomas took over the project on 3 April 2007.
The fruit was received in bulk and repacked into 500gm bags by the Bible Study Group comprising Mary, Bev Eccleston, Marlene Lehmann, Helen Blake, Cathy Smith, Sai White, Taki Murray, Min Burgess, Angela Smith and Jean Farley. Together they combined fruit packing with “pushing back the frontiers of Christian understanding” and had lots of fun.
The fruit was then stored at various locations before delivery as required to the church for sale. Cathy Smith was lead sales lady for many years, kindly urging people to buy. Other sales were made through the community program.
In the 15 years, the total value of fruit purchased from the Loffler’s was $63,262.
Profits from sales initially all went to Frontier Services and were later shared with Motor Neurone Disease Services, from which point Mary and Geoff Thomas donated the fruit.
The total donation to Frontier Services was $12,215, and to MND, $8,120.
Apart from this, the Lofflers benefited from a regular outlet for their products, which was particularly important during tough seasons.
And this from Tony: “Sandy and I appreciated Mary and your commitment and the support and welcome of the congregation which had added meaning and value as we journeyed through our fruit production experiences -the drought and water restrictions, and in latter times our life journey with Mary and Sandy’s health issues (Sandy died of a brain tumour about 3 years ago).
We were most grateful for the financial support sales to the Blackwood UC afforded us and the appreciation of our product was always an encouragement”.
And of course, many enjoyed the taste and nutritional benefits of locally grown and processed product.
We should all thank the band of volunteers, who, along with our buyers, were largely responsible for the project’s success. But then as Mary would have said “we don’t do failures”!
This was a great example of the church in action of which we should all be proud.
BUT THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT THE THOMMO KITCHEN CONTINUES TO PRODUCE GREAT HOME-MADE JAMS, PICKLES AND SAUCE, ALL OF WHICH ARE NOW ON SALE AT THE CHURCH, WITH PROCEEDS TO MND AND FRONTIER SERVICES