Estacada food bank benefits from young helpers
When customers enter the Estacada Area Food Bank, they might receive an enthusiastic greeting from Xander and Landon Bevercombe.
River Mill Elementary students Xander, 9, and Landon, 6, have been volunteering at the food bank with their mother, Natasha, since January 2018.
"I wanted something to do while the boys were in school," she said, noting that Xander and Landon often join her after school and during the summer. "It gives them motivation. If they can't do something at the house, they can do it here."
Natasha volunteers with the food bank, at 272 S. Broadway St., on Tuesdays and Fridays each week. Landon and Xander join her "almost every time."
Estacada Area Food Bank Director Debra Bufton said that along with Xander and Landon, six other youth volunteers work at the locations on Broadway Street and Clackamas River Elementary School. Additionally, an average of 10 volunteers from Estacada Middle School and Estacada High School join the food bank's team to meet requirements for service learning classes, graduation and Girl and Boy Scout merit awards.
When volunteering, Landon and Xander restock items on the shelves of the food bank and welcome people into establishment.
"We get the door," Landon said.
"The ladies that work here adore them. When I come without them, they ask, 'Where are the boys?'" Natasha added.
The Bevercombe family has appreciated the close-knit and accepting community offered by the food bank. Natasha has multiple sclerosis and noted that the group at the food
bank has been supportive of this.
"They know I have my hard days," she said. "No one judges."
She enjoys connecting with the food bank's customers.
"I love seeing the kids grow up," Natasha said. "You'll see a pregnant mom come in, and then she'll bring her baby. You see the children grow."
Natasha also appreciates the perspective that working at
the food bank provides her sons.
"It gives them satisfaction knowing that they're helping," she said. "It shows them what people in a different environment go through. It shows them these people who need a little help, a lot of help or no help at all."
Natasha enjoys helping people and allowing her sons to have similar experiences.
"I like knowing I've helped people, and being able to give ideas for people who are struggling," she said. "I can give advice."
Fellow Estacada Area Food Bank volunteer Linda Glasser described working with Landon and Xanger as "a laugh a minute."
"They're so sweet," she said. "They're really fun."
Staff at the Estacada Area Food Bank see value in beginning volunteer efforts at a young age.
"If you start giving back to the community at an early age, it becomes ingrained in you, and becomes second nature," Glasser said.
"They want to help and they can positively impact the world around them through their individual actions," she said. "I think most kids are helpers in their very core and volunteering helps meet this need; opens learning pathways — about the community they live in, working with people from many different age groups, and backgrounds."
Xander and Landon have already developed a strong enthusiasm for helping at the food bank.
"(I want to volunteer here) my whole life," Landon said.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Estacada Area Food Bank
WHERE: 272 S. Broadway St.
WHEN: Open from 10-11:45 a.m. and 12:30-3:45 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays. Food is available monthly to community members in Estacada, Eagle Creek, Colton, Carver and Barton who meet income requirements.
ALSO: Through a partnership with the Estacada School District, the food bank has a second location at Clackamas River Elementary School, which is open to all school district families.
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