'Doing small things with great love'
All sorts of people find their way to SnowCap Community Charities for help.
A few weeks ago a man called needing assistance. He had just been diagnosed with COVID-19, was stuck at home with an illness, and didn't have enough sick leave to cover the hours he was missing. On top of all that, his cupboards were empty and he was hungry.
"He told us on the phone that, 'Anything you have to eat will help, because I have nothing,'" said Kirsten Wageman, SnowCap executive director. "That kind of intimacy and conversation is difficult, no one wants to make that call."
Another man came up to the SnowCap window to pick up a food box for the first time last month. He was a small business owner who normally led donation drives to the nonprofit food pantry. But he had to shutter his business during the pandemic, and found himself on the other side needing a little help.
"At SnowCap you get help when you need it, and give back when you can," Wageman said.
These coming months are the perfect time to give back to such an important nonprofit food pantry as they kick off the largest food drive of the year. Friday, Nov. 5, is the official start of Fill-A-Bag, spearheaded by Riverview Community Bank and Gresham Ford. The three-month fundraiser brings together individuals and businesses across the community through a series of fun, creative events.
Everything is set up by passionate business owners who love supporting SnowCap. That is what makes Fill-A-Bag so unique, it is driven by the community. No two years are the same when it comes to the events, and even Wageman gets a kick learning what East County's businesses have come up with to support the pantry.
"You can't keep good people down, Fill-A-Bag keeps getting better and more fun every year," Wageman said with a laugh. "I love seeing all the things the businesses do each year — they know what it is like to struggle, and this is a way to connect with the community and support neighbors."
Fill-A-Bag comes at a crucial time. The end of the year is always the busiest for the food pantry as cold weather hits and the holidays put a strain on everyone.
And the pandemic has exasperated everything. SnowCap is supporting clients whom never imagined they would need help finding food, with about 200 new families visiting each month. All together the organization continues to serve thousands of people monthly.
"We are working with a lot of folks who are missing work right now," Wageman said. "This is a scary time. People are having to decide whether to take good jobs, or stay home to support loved ones through eldercare or child care. No one wants to have to make those choices."
In addition to the splashy events, keep an eye out around the community during Fill-A-Bag for the iconic SnowCap barrels, where people can drop off supplies for the pantry.
Some of the items needed are canned vegetables, peanut butter, canned soup, coffee, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, razors, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, dish soap, toilet paper, masks, hand warmers, hats and gloves, activity books, and pet food. Right now there are barrels to drop off items at Gresham Ford, 1999 E. Powell Blvd.; Riverview Community Bank, 225 N.E. Burnside Road; and SnowCap, 17788 S.E. Pine St.
Any business can request a barrel online at bit.ly/3GpdCyg
And, of course, financial donations go a long way as well. The nonprofit organization has a stronger buying power, so a dollar donated leads to more food than could be found at the local grocery store.
"There are so many ways to make a difference," Wageman said.
Even with the pandemic last year, Fill-A-Bag continued to be a huge success for SnowCap. In 2020 they raised $56,455.71, collected 4,861 pounds of food, and 370 pounds of hygiene items. The hope is to reach those same numbers in 2021.
"It would be amazing to raise $50,000, that would make us feel so secure and continue to allow us to offer so many extras to our clients," Wageman said. "Those funds would allow us to continue into uncharted territory and survive any unexpected catastrophes."
But any amount donated helps. From $1 to $100, or a single can of beans, Wageman said the smallest gesture makes a world of difference when it comes to feeding the hungry.
"Those donations, put together with thousands of others who give what they can, really adds up," she said. "Doing small things with great love is what Fill-A-Bag and SnowCap are all about."
Learn more about the fundraiser or donate online at snowcap.org/fill-a-bag.html
- Friday, Nov. 5 â€“ Fill-A-Bag Kickoff at Gresham Ford, 1999 E. Powell Boulevard. Drive-thru donation event with plenty of festivities to celebrate
- Saturday, Nov. 20 — Mt. Hood Mustangs & Fords Car Club cruise-in from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Gresham's Office Depot, 2205 N.E. Burnside Rd. Classic cars on display during donation drop off
- Thursday, Dec. 2 — Riverview Community Bank Drive-Thru Drop Off at the local branch, 225 N.E. Burnside Rd.
- Saturday, Dec. 11 — "Frozen" donations from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at U.S. World Class Taekwondo, 39 N.W. Third St. Donate an item and get a free picture with a "Frozen" Ice Queen and Snow Princess
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