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Murdock Charitable Trust cash will help more than quadruple the center's food storage capacity

The Canby Center team has ambitious plans for its expansion, and a $600,000 infusion from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust will push it toward the finish line.

The project will add 11,500 square feet and a second floor to the center's existing 5,000-square-foot facility. The expansion will more than quadruple food storage space, as well as add space for classrooms and other programming.

The center has served the community for 14 years. Before the pandemic, the center served around 60 families per week, but the ripple effect from COVID-19 has only reinforced the center's value and need for expansion. By May 2020, the number of families served per week shot up to 1,100, according to nonprofit officials. And those figures haven't wavered much since.

COURTESY RENDERING: THE CANBY CENTER - A rendering of what The Canby Center may eventually look like once its $8.5 million expansion project is complete.

The center offers a wide range of wraparound services to combat poverty, including food assistance, medical care, education services and much more. The organization's website emphasizes dignity as much as its faith-based mission.

"We have a component where there's personal responsibility involved," said Steve Nelson, the center's development director. "So, the people receiving the services are asked to donate or volunteer one hour a month to give back so they also have skin in the game."

To expand on the center's "dignity" mission, Nelson envisions a future where the food service portion of the facility will be organized like a supermarket, where individuals and families can collect whatever they need. The purpose, Nelson said, is to make the services feel less like charity.

"It'll be a little bit like shopping in Costco," Nelson said.

The overall budget for the project, including both construction and the program expansion, is around $8.5 million, and they've been raising money for the last couple of years from a variety of sources, including individual donors, foundations, and even a $1.25 million grant from the state.

"We're right at the cusp," he said. "We have raised close to $6.5 million so far."

Nelson hopes that publicity about the Murdock grant will persuade other funders to push the center toward its fundraising goal.

"I feel like this award is a huge momentum builder that could influence others' decisions," he said.

Nelson is cautiously optimistic that the project will break ground as early as March 2023. He hopes to see it completed by January 2024.

Anyone interested in getting involved should visit Nelson said individual monetary donations are always a huge help and that as little as $35 can serve a family of four for an entire week.

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