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Need is acute this year as businesses find safe ways to help the community help those in need

COURTESY PHOTO: SNOWCAP COMMUNITY CHARITIES - SnowCap Community Charities' biggest food dirve Fill-A-Bag is underway and badly needed as the economy continues to slump due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

An elderly woman was picking up some badly needed groceries recently at SnowCap Community Charities and leaned over and confided to Executive Director Kirsten Wageman that she hadn't eaten in two days and was thankful to be replenishing her food supply. The woman's Social Security check paid for her housing, but little else.

"Without places like SnowCap, she would be housed, but not fed," Wageman said.

To help this woman and so many others in need in East Multnomah County, SnowCap's biggest food drive of the year, Fill-A-Bag, has just launched.

Wageman is thankful that East Multnomah County's businesses community has once again stepped up to make the yearly food drive happen in an unsettled time.

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended so much this year and the annual Fill-A-Bag food drive and fundraiser is no exception. There won't be any large-gathering events, this year's Fill-A-Bag will be pandemically-proper mostly dive through affairs.

COURTESY: SNOWCAP COMMUNITY CHARITIES - Help stop hunger in East Multnomah County.The pandemic has also devastated the economy and increased the need among East County residents struggling to put food on the table and pay for shelter and utilities.

The businesses "are not doing the in-person events we so look forward to," Wageman said, and applauded the creativity of the businesses involved in finding fun, new ways to still stage the much-needed food drive.

"Businesses are going out of their way to give back, even though some of them, especially smaller ones, are facing big challenges too," Wageman said.

In another change, this year Fill-A-Bag is also asking for hygiene products since families are having a tough time paying for those items too.

"We're also asking for masks," Wageman said. (See the sidebar for a list of the most needed items).

SnowCap is working to meet the increased need and now is allowing folks to come in for food and supplies twice a month through the end of the year. In the past, people could only come in once a month to stock up.

This year's Fill-A-Bag kicked off Friday, Nov 6, with a drive-through drop-off at Gresham Ford. There are plenty of other events planned where folks can drop off food and much-needed hygiene products. If you missed the kick-off event, Gresham Ford, at 1999 E. Powell Blvd, can accept food and hygiene products or monetary donations during business hours throughout the drive.

• From 2-4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10, head on over to the aptly-named Hope's Bakery, 455 N.E. Burnside Road. They'll have a drive-through set up to accept donations for SnowCap. There will also be a visit from a special Princess from the Eastside Theater, some cute character cookies and half off delicious, hand-crafted drinks.

• From 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 21, Landmark Tax and Investment Services Inc., 415 N.E. Fourth St., will accept donations of needed items or money and donors will get a raffle ticket. Landmark will match total cash donations.

You can also "empty" a bag, since Landmark is offering free shredding of one box of documents per vehicle. The first 200 folks will get a ticket for a free frosty from Wendy's. Everyone making a donation will get a free cookie.

• Riverview Community Bank, 225 N.E. Burnside Road steps up for Fill-A-Bag from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3. The first 100 SnowCap donors will receive a Riverview "Santa Pack," which includes a $5 gift card and holiday goodies from iCandy. Eastside Theater's Frozen Princess will reign over the drive-through event.

At Riverview, there will be a raffle for iPod Pro Ear Buds and an iPad to benefit SnowCap and the Eastside Theater's February show. Tickets will be sold at the branch and at the theater door.

And, as with Gresham Ford, Riverview will accept donations for SnowCap at its branch through the end of the year.

• From 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Dec. 5, Santa and Elsa will be happy to accept donations for SnowCap at a drive-up event at U.S. World Class Taekwondo, 39 N.W. Third St.

• Want a photo with Santa? From 4-8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7, Dec. 14, and Dec. 21, Gresham Station, 649 N.W. 12th St., will have free, socially-distanced photos with the Jolly Old Elf for anyone who donates to SnowCap.

• Classic cars will be on display as people drive through near Gresham Office Depot, 2205 N.E. Burnside Road from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12 at a donation station organized by Mt. Hood Mustangs & Fords Car Club.

• "Try Local" will take donations at Sandy Cinema, 16605 Champion Way, Sandy, at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 15.

Of course, SnowCap's donation center at 1778 S.E. Pine St. will be accepting donations from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Major business sponsors of Fill-A-Bag are Gresham Ford, Riverview Community Bank and Pamplin Media Group.

SnowCap has made a few other changes due to the pandemic and staggering economy.

This year it will not have its holiday "Adopt A Family" program or its toy store for struggling families to give Santa an assist with toys under the tree.

"It's a really back-to-basics year for SnowCap," Wageman said. Gresham Ford's Amy Tipsord said Fill-A-Bag is more important than ever as SnowCap works to help people like the elderly woman, who "have too much month at the end of the money."

Want to help?

Here is the list of SnowCap Community Charities' most needed items for food boxes:

Canned vegetables

Canned tuna

Canned soups/stews/chili

Peanut butter

Canned fruit

Dessert mixes (Jello/cake/brownie etc.)

Coffee

Can openers

Hot chocolate packets

SnowCap would like full-size toiletries and items needed for care packages:

Soap

Shampoo and conditioner

Toothpaste and toothbrushes

Lotion

Deodorant

Razors

Shaving cream

Hand sanitizer

Baby wipes

Sanitizing wipes

Dish soap

Dishwasher detergent

Laundry detergent

Toilet paper and paper towels

Masks for children and adults

Hand warmers

Hats, gloves and scarves

For children, SnowCap would like to have pre-filled stockings or small bags with items such as: Activity books, crayons, card games, hot chocolate, candy or other small holiday treats.


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