Former Lake Oswego business owner returns to Farmers Market to give back
There might not be a cabbage on her head — or even a piñata — but Phyllis Seeger, 98, is planning to wear one of her famed funky hats during an upcoming Lake Oswego Farmers Market.
The West Linn resident will return to the local market, where she's become a popular figure, Saturday, July 24, to continue her longtime quest to raise funds for Portland's Community Transitional School. She took a hiatus from the Lake Oswego Farmers Market last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seeger's daughter, Alice, formerly owned Upper Crust Bread Company in downtown Lake Oswego. During that time, from 1999-2012, Alice would have a bakery booth at the Lake Oswego Farmers Market every Saturday. After Phyllis learned about the Community Transitional School — which is for children whose families are homeless, in transition or are experiencing poverty-related crises — during a West Linn Lions Club meeting roughly two decades ago, she wanted to help support the school.
Alongside the bakery stall, where Phyllis was the "sample lady," the family also set up a booth a couple times a year at the market to fundraise for the school by selling arts and crafts. All of the proceeds raised at the craft sale — which included handmade bags, hats, embroidered tea towels, dinner napkins and more — went toward the school.
"The school is fabulous for homeless kids. They built a big gym in the backyard and everything," Phyllis said.
Alice and her sister, Ruth, said they remembered someone telling Phyllis a story of a student asking for a pair of shoes that they'd share with their mom. Phyllis broke down crying.
"That was kind of her new cause," Ruth said.
The family estimates they raise around $800 for the school at each market (they've also appeared at other markets like the Red Mitten Christmas Bazaar in Canby). They noted that people also make donations directly to the school after learning more about it through their fundraisers.
Phyllis spends a lot of her time embroidering items like tea towels and dinner napkins to sell for the fundraiser.
"I used to knit a lot but then ... my hands were not as good for knitting needles," she said.
Phyllis added that she started knitting as a way to relax and when she picked up embroidery, it provided her with the same outlet.
"It's pretty and it's relaxing and it's not too demanding," Phyllis said.
"She doesn't sit still very well," said Ruth, adding that her mom likes to be productive and has always kept busy, not fully retiring until she was almost 90. "She's a handful."
When Alice owned the bakery, Phyllis would "bag and tag" the bread.
"I always ran out and visited with all the customers — anything to get away from the slicing machine," Phyllis said.
One of her favorite aspects at the markets was crafting a fun hat to adorn each weekend to draw the attention of customers.
"They flew up the stairs to see what I was wearing that week," she said. "I just like people."
The family encourages folks to stop by their booth next Saturday to check out the crafts. And Phyllis will likely be there from 9:30-11:30 a.m. wearing a special hat.
"Please come to support the school and see Phyllis," Alice said.
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