The community doesn’t just enjoy the work being done to honor farmworkers in local fields via a new program. The public also wants to join in the efforts.

The Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association recently launched the Labor of Love program as a way to celebrate area farmworkers and their commitment to Yuma’s agriculture industry.

Now, following requests for involvement from the community, the association is launching a Labor of Love project that will directly involve the public. Starting Friday, Labor of Love will begin accepting donations of $5 gift cards, which will be given to people working in Yuma-area fields.

“We knew the industry would jump on board to support Labor of Love, but we were taken aback by the community’s response. Phone calls, emails and social media messages have been pouring from Yuma community members asking how they can get involved,” said Steve Alameda, president of the Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association. “We are excited to share a way that everyone can show their support for those working in Yuma-area fields.”

The gift cards will be accepted through Dec. 17. The drop-off location will be RDO Equipment, located at 3050 U.S. 95. RDO’s office hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to noon Saturday.

“The gift cards will be distributed during a massive Labor of Love ‘Random Act of Kindness’ morning on Friday, Dec. 18, when farmworkers will be surprised with the gift cards so generously donated by the community,” said Susan Sternitzke with Limelight Creative Group.

The Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association and its members will also donate cards, but organizers say the public’s donations will make a huge difference in the amount of people that can be reached.

“We are hoping for 300 (gift cards) so we can reach six crews of 50 people,” Sternitzke said. “But, if we get more, it’s just more crews that will be included.”

She added that the public donating to farmworkers through Labor of Love amounts to the best way for that sharing to happen while not getting in the way of busy farm work.

“We are asking that the community support this effort through the program instead of going to a crew themselves. We take many precautions and plan carefully before visiting a field because of the stringent food safety initiatives,” Sternitzke said. “We plan ahead, talk to the owner/grower and work through the field supervisors to make sure we aren’t walking or driving in an inappropriate spot or disrupting a crew that is on a tight deadline.”

The vegetable association kicked off Labor of Love recently by giving breakfast burritos to farmworkers.

“We have shared the Mr. G’s bean/cheese burritos to crews that have ranged from 35-50 people,” Sternitzke said with pride. “We have gone into the fields to provide them. The first time was a T&A crew and they were in the Bard Valley picking artisan romaine lettuce, and the Foothill Packing crew was in the Wellton area transplanting romaine lettuce. When we delivered to the Foothill Packing group, it was 41 degrees!”

For more information on the Labor of Love program, go to LaborOfLoveYuma.com or contact Limelight Creative Group at 928-246-9255.

Darin Fenger can be reached at dfenger@yumasun.com.

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