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Annual fundraiser nets $53,000 after year of extraordinary hardship marked by pandemic

PMG FILE PHOTO - SnowCap Community Charities Executive Director Kirsten Wageman said they will use the funds to continue expanding services in face of pandemic.Despite a difficult year in which many people in East Multnomah County found themselves struggling to pay bills and make ends meet, an annual fundraiser for a critical nonprofit food pantry was a historic success.

SnowCap Community Charities annual Fill-A-Bag fundraiser brought in a record amount of donations to support hungry neighbors across East Multnomah County.

"I am so excited to report that despite all of the challenges, this Fill-A-Bag campaign was the most successful ever," said Kirsten Wageman, SnowCap executive director. "We credit this success to the many creative ways that local businesses and neighbors found to give no matter the obstacles."

In 2020, the nonprofit fundraiser brought in $53,000 — thanks in large part to a surprise $20,000 donation from Harsch Investments and the Harold and Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation. While that generous bulk donation made a huge difference in a year marked by more people than ever before needing the services offered by SnowCap, Fill-A-Bag still would have raised more than in recent years — in 2018 and 2019, the event brought in $27,000 each.

"SnowCap is so grateful to everyone who was determined to support Fill-A-Bag even though it looked different," Wageman said.

Fill-A-Bag is SnowCap's biggest drive of the year, and is helmed by businesses and community members who go above-and-beyond to make a difference for neighbors seeking help in putting food on the table. The main sponsors are Gresham Ford, Riverview Community Bank and Pamplin Media Group.

"The true test of philanthropy is when times are tough, people and businesses still find ways to give," said Bess Wills, Gresham Ford's general manager and leader of the 2020 Fill-A-Bag campaign. " We must thank one key player in the Fill-A-Bag project this year, as without their support, their promotions of the efforts and the ability to place envelopes in their newspapers our efforts would have been severely compromised — Pamplin Media."

COURTESY PHOTO: DEANN ORR - Jordan Schnitzer helps unload boxes during a Gresham Station food box distribution in partnership with SnowCap.In the past, Fill-A-Bag has relied on several large-gatherings, but this year the minds behind the series of events had to be more creative to ensure the safety of all involved.

Hope's Bakery set up a drive-thru window for donations with princesses and cookies; Riverview Community Bank offered "Santa Packs" for those who donated; and Gresham's Office Depot showcased classic cars organized by the Mt. Hood Mustangs & Fords Car Club. There were online raffles and giveaways, free treats and toys, and photos with Santa.

"We credit this success to the many creative ways that local businesses and neighbors found to give no matter the obstacles," Wageman said.

Because of the drive's success, SnowCap will be able to continue responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by expanding services. With Fill-A-Bag's help, clients have been able to visit the pantry twice a month instead of once. That will likely continue through at least February.

"Our clients tell us that knowing there is somewhere to go when they need help is a true relief, especially when there are children learning at home who need healthy food to learn and grow," Wageman said.

SnowCap provides food and resources to residents from Gresham, East Portland, Troutdale, Fairview and Wood Village. Learn more at snowcap.org


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