Katie Beaver and Adriana Williamson, Parks
Feed the Mass
Adriana Williamson and I have been fortunate to help spread a little cheer during the holidays. For the last three years, we have worked with students in our kids’ classes at Peninsula Park Community Center Preschool Program to make holiday cards for meal box recipients. About 40 families at Peninsula have joined us through our virtual programming. During the holidays we talk a lot about gratitude and ways we can be community members, so this is our community project.
In class and with our families this is a great opportunity to talk about what it means to be a good community member and the small ways we can spread joy. We talk about when we make something with love, even like a simple card, we can bring someone a lot of happiness. As families with small children during COVID it’s hard to feel like you can do a lot, but this was one simple way we could contribute a little joy our community.
We collected all of the students’ cards on November 30th and are in the process of letting the cards quarantine themselves for two weeks before we pass them off. This year we have more than 100! This year the cards will be going to Feed the Mass, which is an amazing non-profit here in town. Feed the Mass is a non-profit based in Portland, Oregon, with a goal of bringing people together through food and education. They promote awareness, inclusion and the importance of healthy cooking and eating.
I met the founder, Jacobsen Valentine, at a BIPOC market last holiday season. Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, Jacobsen and Feed The Mass have been providing free chef-driven meals to anyone in need of food, nourishment, care, and community. They are also providing on the job training for volunteers interested in the food industry, and training them in the art of making beautiful, healthy food for large amounts of people.
Feed the Mass is in need of volunteers to help make and serve food as well as some staple food items such as salt, pepper, olive oil, carrots, celery, garlic, rice, beans, broccoli, tomatoes fresh or canned, and spices. To volunteer or to donate, visit their website at https://www.feedthemass.org/volunteer.
I am so excited to partner with Feed the Mass this year. Our cards will be going with meals during the two weeks leading up to Christmas. If anyone would like to donate food items, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a drop off and I will deliver them when I take the cards.
Katy Schnoor- OMF, Bureau of Revenue and Financial Services
My family and I volunteer for a charity called Love INC. We help with their firewood program, which helps heat community members’ homes when they can’t afford their heating bills. My 81-year-old father is the superhero of our family operation.
If someone has wood to donate, they contact Love INC which contacts my dad. Dad goes out to survey it and then hauls it to the “secret storage” location. He cuts the wood with his chainsaw into rounds. Each round then needs to be split, hauled, and stacked and then hauled again to the final storage location.
My family, the Oregon City Rugby team and our church’s youth group have three to four woodcut days a year at both locations to lessen my dad’s workload. Dad will do anything we can’t get done the rest of the year and it is hard work. At one work party in October, we cut, split, hauled and stacked four truck beds and were only able to get through half of the wood that needed to be prepared. We had another work party in early November and will do one more after Thanksgiving.
Love INC provides the screening for community members in need of wood for a warm fire. Once they have completed a needs assessment with Love INC we fill up a truck bed with wood and deliver it to them. We deliver about 35 cords of wood each winter to help keep families warm.
People do what they have to do to survive and helping people in very difficult circumstances is both inspirational and humbling. One instance stands out in particular. Several years ago we delivered wood to a woman who was so desperate, she was physically taking wooden shingles off the outside of her house to keep her children warm. On many occasions when we deliver wood on cold winter mornings, the family will come out of their homes to thank us and help unload the truck.
Love INC also connects people with other resources. It identifies unmet needs in the community and helps churches build ministries to fill the gaps. Each Love INC affiliate also serves the local community’s agencies and charities by accepting referrals from them of people who need assistance.
Some of the necessities Love INC provides are:
- Baby Furnishings
- Cleaning Supplies
- Durable Medical Equipment
- Kitchen Items
- Newborn Items
- Personal Hygiene Items
My volunteer work with Love INC has had a huge impact on my family’s life. It is an amazing feeling to know you are truly helping someone get through some tough times, and it makes me remember how VERY blessed and thankful I am.
Lyda Hakes - Portland Water Bureau
Forest Park Elementary School PTA PPS Coat Drive
I am a first-time Board member for Forest Park Elementary School’s PTA and I organized their coat drive this year. Due to COVID-19 it was quite different, and we weren’t getting a constant stream of coats during each day’s drop off and pickup. We had hoped to coordinate coat collection with the school’s twice-weekly contactless library book exchange but with the explosion in COVID cases even that wouldn’t work. Our solution? Contact-less front-porch drop-offs at two houses in the neighborhood.
Even with all those challenges, I am so proud to say we collected 89 coats and 39 gloves/hats/scarves from our school community. To keep the coat recipients safe and also so every coat looked (and smelled) as new as it could, I spent all weekend washing every used coat, checking pockets, crossing out names, and lint-brushing once dried.
The picture above is the mountain of coats with my 1st grader Audrey and 3rd grader Violet for perspective. We’ll get these to a couple of local elementary schools this week and the Portland Public School’s Clothing Closet coordinator will pick up and distribute the adult-sized coats collected. And my husband was our contact-less pickup person for coats bought with donated money, so it was truly a family affair!
My girls helped by trying on coats when I needed to guess a size. Every time they oohed and aahed over how nice a coat was, we talked about how fortunate we are and how the coat was going to help some other little kiddo stay warm. Our cat likes to eat clothes (and shed), so we had to keep the laundry room door shut all weekend to make sure there were no unfortunate incidents.
Organizing this coat drive was an important act of service for me. It’s so easy to feel helpless (and hopeless) with all the unrest in the world and this was a positive, concrete way to focus my energies and make a local impact.