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In 30th year, citrus sale still North Hills Community Outreach's top fundraiser

| Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, 2:15 p.m.

In its 30th year, the North Hills Community Outreach's citrus sale is holding strong as one of the non-profit's biggest fundraisers.

The annual citrus sale runs through Feb. 6 and allows people to enjoy fruit fresh from the groves in Florida during Western Pennsylvania's bitter cold winter.

“We've done so well because we have such strong connections to members in the community and such strong connections to faith-based congregations that do group sales,” garden and youth coordinator Alyssa Crawford said.

The North Hills Community Outreach has been selling fruit since its incorporation in 1987. Last year the group sold 1,100 boxes of citrus fruits — 100 of which were donated to its food pantries, said Jennifer Kissel, director of communications for the outreach.

More than 150 volunteers helped with the sale by either unloading the truck, sorting the fruit or distributing boxes.

The fundraiser garnered more than $16,000 for the nonprofit that benefits local families in crisis, hardship and poverty through more than 20 programs.

Kissel said they have loyal supporters who order citrus each year. For some, buying citrus was a gateway into volunteering or donating in other ways.

People can order boxes directly from North Hills Community Outreach or order it through one of the many civic groups, churches and youth groups that host group sales for the outreach. This year about 25 community groups are selling for the organization, Crawford said.

In addition to purchasing boxes for themselves, people can also buy fruit for the outreach's three food pantries through the sale. Crawford said after they reach their goal of 100 boxes, any contributions go to purchase other necessary items for the food pantries.

The sale offers fruit not typically available in grocery stores, like sweet and juicy temple oranges, Crawford said. Indian river pink grapefruit, honey tangerines and sampler boxes with navel oranges, grapefruit and Anjou pears are also available to purchase.

Boxes are between $22 and $34 depending on size and fruit selected.

The fruit is picked in groves in Florida and driven straight up to the outreach offices. Once it arrives at North Hills Community Outreach, the boxes are checked by hand to ensure all the fruit is good, Crawford said.

“It's a really great product,” Crawford said. “It's really fresh.”

Orders must be in by Feb. 6 and the fruit is available for pick-up March 4 and 5 at St. Paul's United Methodist Church. Those interested can order online at nhco.org/fruit.cfm or contact Alyssa at aacrawford@nhco.org or by calling 412-307-0069 x 3311.

Rachel Farkas is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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