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CityGives Volunteers Blog

CityGives Helping Hands - Stories from City Employee Volunteers

 

Katy Schnoor- OMF, Bureau of Revenue and Financial Services
Love INC

Picture of people chopping and stacking wood

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.

Katy Schnoor Family TeamPeople chopping and hauling wood

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
  • Diapers
  • Durable Medical Equipment
  • Firewood
  • Kitchen Items
  • Newborn Items ​
  • ​​​​Linens
  • 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

Two children sitting amongst a mountain of coats in bags

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!

Cat interested in bags of coatsCat disappointed it can't eat coats

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.