Two ninth grade students approached a history department member of Trinity Preparatory School in 1997 with an idea for a community service project to help others. David Sackel and Lyle Finkler saw unpicked citrus and were troubled that large quantities of it were left to rot. Many of the citrus trees were not harvested, and they saw this as a solution to combat hunger. Constructing Ideas That Reach Underprivileged Sectors (CITRUS) Society was born that same year.
David and Lyle set out to make this program a success. The school was asked to recognize the new club and a meeting was scheduled to publicize the group’s mission. These high school students picked oranges and gave them to local charitable organizations. A local businessman who owned a citrus juicing and packing plant offered to process the picked fruit, and interest in the CITRUS Society began to grow.
The club scheduled four Saturdays to take its members to a grove to pick fruit. To further encourage interest in the program, Monday morning all-school assemblies were used to announce pickings, remind club members of meetings, and after each Saturday picking, to hand out several bags of fruit to faculty members. David and Lyle embraced their club and encouraged others to do the same. Their humorous public relations sketches were very successful and resulted in more members.
The purpose of this group is simply to utilize untapped resources to help others. At each picking, fruit is picked and bagged by the students and then loaded into a truck. While the fruit was initially juiced, it is now distributed in bags to local charitable agencies like the Second Harvest Food Bank, Coalition for the Homeless, Senior First, Inc., Community Service Center of South Orange County, Seminole County Better Living for seniors, The Salvation Army, and Spouse Abuse, Inc. Club members also help in the deliveries as well as the pickings. The volunteers find the pickings to be both meaningful and fun.
The CITRUS Society began with just an idea and two founders. The membership was 13 in the fall of 1997 and has grown to more than 60 members. The Society is also one of the most popular clubs at Trinity Prep, competing with nationally recognized programs. Since its inception, more than 1,700 half bushels of fresh fruit have been donated throughout Central Florida.
David and Lyle are genuinely concerned about their community and their quiet leadership has turned an idea into reality. Their concern gave birth to a worthwhile endeavor that is helping give nutrition to many in the Orlando area. The CITRUS Society is now well rooted at Trinity Prep and will continue even when David Sackel and Lyle Finkler have progressed into their college careers. They are pleased to know that this club will be their legacy to Central Florida.