When the two new Walmart superstores opened in Tigard and Sherwood this week, shoppers from all over the region flocked to the locations, hoping to save a few bucks on everything from toiletries to sporting goods.

But a handful of people at Wednesday's grand openings weren’t there to spend money, they were there to receive it.

As part of its grand opening festivities, Walmart donated more than $164,000 to local charities and organizations across the Portland-area.

Each store handed out about $5,000 in grants to local groups within Tigard and Sherwood and the Walmart Foundation — the retailer's charitable arm — distributed more than $150,000 to Portland-area charities.

“Walmart has a few major focuses, like reducing hunger, supporting people getting jobs, veteran’s organizations and schools,” said Dion Hess, general manager of the Tigard supercenter. “We asked people to give us an idea of nonprofits we should be supporting in the community and matched them up with what Walmart already supports.”

The Walmart Foundation's grants went to a variety of organizations. It purchased a new truck for a Portland food pantry, donated to the Serendipity Center K-12 school and donated $60,000 to the Portland Police Bureau Sunshine Division to help feed and clothe veterans, families and seniors across the metro area.

The donation is the largest in the organization's 90-year history, said Phil Kent, a Portland Police officer assigned to the Sunshine Division.

“For an organization of our size, a grant of this magnitude will enable Sunshine Division to significantly help more people in less time with better resources.” Kent said. “We’ve had an ongoing partnership with Walmart stores who have helped us feed and clothe families at the local level, we value the evolution of this partnership with such an impactful grant from the Walmart Foundation.”

Kyle Camberg, Sunshine Division’s executive director, said that the money would help the organization deliver food throughout the Portland area by hiring new warehouse staff, and purchasing new equipment and space.

Ongoing support

Hess said that the supercenters focused their grants on organizations that impact Tigard and Sherwood.

“St. Vincent de Paul runs a food pantry right here in Tigard,” Hess said. "Walmart does so much throughout the nation to battle hunger hunger, but St. Vincent is specific to Tigard, and the Tigard Police have a backpack program that helps lower income kids. How can that not pull on your heartstrings?”

The company donated $1,000 to Oregon Human Development Corporation's Youthsource program. The Metzger-based operation helps disadvantaged students in Washington County get the skills they need to find work.

Mia Bartlett, who runs the program, said that the store was also able to hire 23 of its graduates, many of whom worked at the Supa Fresh Youth Farm near Durham Elementary School.

"Walmart's contribution to OHDC Youth Source will go directly to support youth workforce training in Tigard and Tualatin, a critical need within our community. Their generous gift, along with hiring 23 of OHDC YouthSource program graduates, will have a positive lasting impact on the lives of youth in Tigard and Tualatin."

Hess said that the Tigard store has donated about 60 percent of the money it had set aside for community donations, and plans to award more grants later this year.

“Supporting the community is ongoing,” Hess said. "In February, at the beginning of our new fiscal year, we’ll get a new grant budget and start all over again.”

Organizations can apply for future grants online at Walmart's community giving website, Hess said.

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