Sharon Straus was all smiles when she sat down for lunch alongside Portland and Gresham Firefighters at Station 31. Sharon, the founder and director of a nonprofit food recovery and redistribution center, traveled from Beaverton to Gresham to break bread with and give a big thank you to the firefighters for donating perishable items to the “Sunshine Pantry” during the 2010 holiday season.
Over 25 years ago, the Sunshine Pantry was born in Sharon’s garage as a family project for her son’s Cub Scout pack and has grown to a complicated food pantry operation that supplies food, clothing, toys, and toiletries that are provided to close to 500 needy families each month.
Sharon stands with Captain Eric and Firefighters Tommy, Kevin, and Chris
in front of PF&R Engine 31
"If I can help, just a little,” Sharon says, “then I feel that's what I am supposed to do. It's just part of me."
Sharon gets most of her food from daily trips to local stores that donate excess goods and welcomes donations from the community.
In 2008, the Sunshine Pantry expanded operations from Sharon’s garage to a donated warehouse in Beaverton off of Nimbus Road.
Sharon takes pride in welcoming all to the Sunshine Pantry with a smile and no judgment. She treats everyone with kindness and respect, and looks forward everyday to connecting and helping those in need.
Six years ago, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Firefighter Kevin was reading the metro section of a local newspaper and happened upon an article about the Sunshine Pantry and Sharon’s motivation to help those less fortunate. Kevin was moved by her dedication, supported her cause, and wanted give back to the community he lived and worked in. He began organizing perishable item drives, first at PF&R Station 12 in NE Portland, and then again at PF&R & Gresham Fire’s jointly shared Station 31 in SE Portland.
In December, Firefighter Kevin and crew organized a perishable food drive at Station 31. The Station collected and donated turkeys, hams, and toilet paper to the Sunshine Pantry. Firefighter Kevin noted, “This was a great opportunity for Portland and Gresham firefighters to help those in need.”