LDS church harvests grapes to give back in Madera County

FRESNO, Calif.

These young folks chose to do farm labor on this Labor Day. The sun was barely up as they started cutting grapes and laying them out to dry at 5:30 a.m.

By mid morning they had acquired a new appreciation for farm workers.

"We get a taste of what others do for a living and realizing that this isn't always fun. It makes me appreciate the raisins and grapes we have in the store more," David Christopherson said.

30,000 Central Valley members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints between Porterville and Atwater are guided by faith to own, work, harvest and offer up the raisins grown here to those in need at home and around the world.

"25 percent is used locally, 75 percent goes to overseas relief efforts," Jamie Hansen said. "Anytime you hear of an earthquake, a flood or tsunami, whatever, I guarantee you some of our produce, our commodities, are sent there."

Hansen has been part of the effort for 3 decades and for that long church members have accepted the assigned farming tasks year after year.

"Matthew 25 tells us that when we have done unto to the least of our brothers we have done it unto him, to Christ," Hansen said.

The work is a joy for this new church member. "It's an honor to be able to help people in need," Sydney Sankey said.

Across the Valley spring rains put the raisin crop a couple of weeks behind schedule. That means a few more weeks to get them off the vine and on the ground to dry.

Hard work requires food in their stomachs and their faith that they can get the job done.

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