Chuck Ward, a member of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, asked God for a way he could lead his family in serving Him. Soon after, Chuck and his 11 year-old daughter Grace walked through their family’s neighborhood.
‘The Harvest is truly plentiful’
The answer to Chuck’s prayer came while he and Grace strolled. They noticed fruit-bearing trees all around them. Some had too much hanging fruit; others had dropped their bounty. The harvest they saw was plentiful, but laborers were few. Similar to the harvest Jesus speaks of at the end of the ninth chapter of Matthew.
Deciding to become “laborers,” Chuck and his wife, Melissa, asked neighbors if their family could harvest unused fruit and donate it to local churches and missions. The Wards received positive responses.
In 2012, they harvested and donated 2,642 pounds of fruit to area missions and church groups. Since January of this year, the Wards have delivered 2,555 pounds of produce.
The family delivers spiritual food in addition to donating physical fruit. They give copies of “Our Daily Bread” and New Testament Bibles to residents at shelters and missions. Last year, the family gave away 55 tracts and 30 New Testaments.
Collection and Distribution
Forgotten Fruit’s area has expanded from Ponte Vedra to Yulee. Their offerings are growing, too. Donors often call the ministry to pick up surplus vegetables and nuts.
The family recently delivered 55 pounds of pecans to the City Rescue Mission in Jacksonville. Excited to receive the nuts, ladies at the shelter shelled them and made cookies, Chuck said.
Over the summer, Forgotten Fruit delivered blueberries and apples to a summer camp run by 2nd Mile Ministries, a Christian community development organization in Jacksonville.
“In the community I work in, it’s difficult to get healthy, fresh produce,” Ruth Arnold, 2nd Mile’s co-founder and executive director, said. “One thing we realize is that some of the health problems we see here partially have to do with lack of access to healthy food.”
Forgotten Fruit’s shipment of blueberries allowed campers who had never eaten blueberries a chance to taste their sweet goodness, she said. “They had fresh blueberries, blueberries with vanilla yogurt, and blueberries in smoothies—lots of different ways to enjoy them.”
Local church involvement
Chuck and Melissa are active members of the ALIVE ministry, led by First Baptist Jacksonville’s executive pastor of Community Life, Trey Brunson.
At Chuck’s suggestion, ALIVE members recently donated socks, toiletries and food items to fill gift bags for the homeless. Meanwhile, Melissa teaches in First Baptist’s middle school department.
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