Those in need of food this holiday season still have until Sunday to secure some

COURTESY PHOTO - Volunteers pack apples for the Christmas boxes given to those in need in the Banks community.Banks residents have until Sunday, Dec. 10, to sign up for Christmas food boxes.

Each year, volunteers with the Banks Family Resource Center — operated by the Banks Community United Methodist Church — provide gifts and food to about 50 local families. Boxes will arrive on Dec. 22, complete with all the fixings for a traditional Christmas meal along with enough food for an additional two weeks.

Church volunteers have been collecting and distributing food around the holidays for at least 30 years, said organizer Leslee Sipp. The Banks School District runs a food drive in the weeks leading up to winter break, collecting hundreds of pounds of food. Local stores donate fresh food and North Plains nonprofit Lucky to Serve fulfills gift requests.

Other local organizations such as Banks Fire District 13 adopt several families for which they provide food and gifts.

"We couldn't do it without everybody," said Sipp. "It's a real neat network of people and everybody pitches in."

Sipp said there are a number of reasons families need assistance. Skyrocketing rent costs is one. Many families are moving in with friends or relatives while they get back on their feet, she said. There are also job losses and people working paycheck to paycheck who have unexpected expenses come up.

"We'll give them Christmas so at least they don't have to worry about that part," she said.

On the bright side, some people call to cancel their box order because their situations have changed for the better.

"We want everyone to have a nice Christmas," Sipp said. "If they send in an application, we give them Christmas, no questions asked."

Recipients are almost always overwhelmingly appreciative.

"Their eyes light up, they're so thankful they have something for their children," Sipp said. "People love what we do here in Banks. We've even had some people move away and let us know that boxes elsewhere aren't as good."

To apply, visit the church at 42451 N.W. Depot St. on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon or 3 to 6 p.m., or go to the Banks Public Library, 42461 N.W. Market St. Call Sipp with any questions at 503-324-5686. Food and cash donations are still accepted and can be dropped off at the church, with Sipp or at Banks schools.

By Stephanie Haugen
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times
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