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Gift of Okanagan apples puts smile on Saskatoon woman’s face

Image Credit: istockphoto.com
October 10, 2013 - 2:28 PM

KELOWNA - Her faith in humanity has been restored by a simple gift from strangers.

To say Doris Lemke, 57, has had a tough life is an understatement. Lemke lost a 12-year-old daughter to cancer. She raised two boys while on social assistance and one of them, 22-year-old Richard has been fighting bowel cancer for years. His condition makes it difficult for him to digest fresh fruit so Lemke decided to make apple sauce for him using galas from the tree in her yard, but it wasn't to be.

Lemke woke on a frosty Saturday morning a few weeks ago thinking about the prospect of enjoying the apples that would be harvested that day from the tree in her front yard. She had been waiting for the first frost because she heard it made the apples sweeter. Two young men volunteered to help out the single mother with the huge job of picking the bumper crop of about 250 apples.

The volunteers knocked on her door that morning and told her all the apples were gone. The tree had been stripped bare in the middle of the night.

“I was shocked more than anything,” Lemke said. “I thought, who would come and take them all?”

Her faith in humanity was shaken. “Who would be afraid to come to my door and ask for some apples?”

She used a borrowed computer to put an ad on Kijiji in hopes the perpetrators would return some of the apples so she could at least taste them.

The ad read:

“WHO STOLE MY APPLES!

My son has cancer. I am a single mom who had to quit work to take care of him. I can hardly afford to buy food. We were looking forward to eating the apples from my tree for the winter. But on Sat, they were ALL gone. Does no one ask anymore? I know how to share. Who needed all 250 apples on my tree? That was so mean and selfish."

The soft spoken Lemke admits it wasn’t a very nice letter and she has since taken it down.

In just a few days the ad was seen by over 2,000 people and the local media picked up the story. From there the story made it's way onto Twitter and that's where B.C. Tree Fruits Manager Chris Pollock stumbled across it. The fruit packing company based in Kelowna sent Lemke a box of freshly picked royal gala apples from this year’s harvest.

“I thought it would be great for us as an organization to be able to help someone out,” said Pollock. “Especially in Saskatoon where fresh apples right off the tree are not readily accessible.”

He said local growers relate with Lemke’s plight. Many have been victims of apple theft.

Lemke found herself overwhelmed and surprised again, but for a good reason.

“They were galas. Just like the ones on my tree.”

She said it was such a kindness.

“They sent these apples all this way just for me and my son.”

Since getting the box of apples she has used them in a yogurt smoothy for her son.

"He told me it was awesome," Lemke said, adding. "Right now as I’m talking to you I have a smile on my face.”

To contact the reporter for this story, email halexander@infotelnews.ca or call 250-491-0331.

Richard Lemke (left) at his brother Michael's graduation with their grandmother.
Richard Lemke (left) at his brother Michael's graduation with their grandmother.
Image Credit: Contributed

Doris Lemke and her daughter before Erika, 12, passed away from cancer.
Doris Lemke and her daughter before Erika, 12, passed away from cancer.
Image Credit: Contribted

When anonymous thieves stripped Doris Lemke's apple tree bare in the middle of the night, the Saskatoon mom could take no more.
When anonymous thieves stripped Doris Lemke's apple tree bare in the middle of the night, the Saskatoon mom could take no more.
Image Credit: Kijiji/THE CANADIAN PRESS

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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