Ahwatukee Foothills resident Sam Barber hopes his new business venture will create a few jobs for some local kids.
Barber founded Citrus for Kids earlier this year and is gearing up for a busy season. His vision is to employ foster children, give them a paycheck, and also provide a service to the community: pick and haul away unwanted citrus fruit.
"There are thousands upon thousands of citrus trees in Ahwatukee Foothills, and the fruit is just falling on the ground," Barber said. "These kids can pick it, they get paid for it, and the fruit is sold that day."
He said he got the idea to employ foster children because they are the most in need of "a leg up."
But, Barber said the idea is not just to hire these kids, pay them, and get them on there way, the underlying goal is to provide them with job skills and mentoring they can benefit from when they go out into the workforce.
"They are in the most need, and we are giving them a real job they can use as a transition for the future," he said.
Barber is in talks with the Aid to Adoption of Special Kids (AASK), a nonprofit foster organization. His goal is to start collecting in December or January, and go through February. The fruit will be sold to local vendors, he said.
Because of the amount of citrus trees in the area, Barber has high hopes for the first year and beyond.
"I just got sick of hearing that we can't create jobs," he said. "Let's start solving it. I know I probably can't create thousands of jobs, but if I get the mountain rolling, I can do hundreds."
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