“This was great, it’s amazing the work they do here,” “That was fun, I smelled oranges in my sleep” and “I never thought packing boxes of oranges could feel so rewarding” were just some of the sentiments of the 13 RoseRyan volunteers who packed more than 15,000 pounds (yes, almost 8 tons) of oranges at the Second Harvest Food Bank in San Jose.

On December 12, our job at the Second Harvest Food Bank was to break down 1,250-pound pallets of oranges into 25-pound boxes. There were 12 pallets, and the volunteer leader said we wouldn’t get through them all since we only had two hours. Team RoseRyan was up for that challenge! Joining other volunteers in a team of 30, we constructed the boxes, filled them with good oranges, weighed the boxes to ensure they were exactly 25 pounds (as precise accountants will do), and stacked them, ready to be distributed.

Being not only precise but also overachieving, we set a second goal, to finish before the apple-packing team. Mission accomplished on both fronts: we packed all 15,000 pounds of oranges and we were done before the apple team! Our reward: help the apple packers. We soon found out why they were slower. Apples were harder to box as they are slippery, they needed more quality control to sort the bad from the good, and the fruit bruises easily so you have to be more careful when putting them into the boxes.

Nevertheless, apples or oranges, RoseRyan is committed to fighting local hunger. This is the second year we’ve volunteered at Second Harvest, which is one of the largest food banks in the nation. In 2012, they distributed 45 million pounds of nutritious food to people in need in every ZIP code from Daly City to Gilroy. In addition to providing food, they conduct nutrition classes and work with lawmakers to advocate for policy changes that can help eliminate hunger and its root causes. Throughout the year, volunteers contribute over 300,000 hours of service to the food bank, saving the organization more than $5.9 million in personnel costs.

We’re proud to contribute to this significant community program. And we get something from it, too. As RoseRyan grows, it becomes harder to keep in touch with our colleagues. This event gives us the opportunity to take a break from the world of debits and credits and hang out together.

Read about our inaugural Second Harvest volunteer event.