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When the need for a food-share van emerged at his church, Woodburn Automotive owner got an idea

COURTESY OF WOODBURN AUTOMOTIVE - Woodburn Automotive owners Richard and Mary Edmonds had an apt biblical verse their granddaughter shared with them etched on the food-share truck they donated to Peoples Church in Salem.When a Woodburn business owner encountered a windfall then discovered a need, some believe divine intervention may have played a part.

What is certain, however, is the actions taken by Richard Edmonds provided a boon to the Food Bank efforts at Peoples Church in Salem.

Edmonds, who with his wife, Mary, own and operate Woodburn Automotive, came upon an unusual transaction involving land that bordered the couple's property in rural Scotts Mills. A downsizing neighbor was selling off acreage in preparation for her move, about 20 of which bordered the Edmonds' spread.

"This all evolved and came into play a little over a year ago," Richard Edmonds said, detailing the conversation he had with his neighbor, the land she was selling and his initial hesitation. "I asked what do you want for it; she said $31,000, and I'm firm on that price.

"I bought it with a 0-interest loan for 14 months. Then I had a logger cruise it, and he said there's $57,000 in timber on the property… Especially valuable was the cedar on it. He told me you are looking at a $90k piece of property."

It turned out the timing of the transaction was impeccable. Another neighbor called Edmonds, expressed interest in the property, and that interest was firm as well. A few parlays later and Edmonds unexpectedly turned a tidy little profit without much ado.PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Woodburn Automotive proprietor Richard Edmonds holds a plaque he received from Peoples Church in Salem. Richard and his wife, Mary, donated a food-share van to the church.

An unrelated story surfaced at People's Church Salem, which the Edmonds' have been attending for 2 ½ years. Church volunteers routinely handled multiple pallets of food every week as part of its Food Share operation. The volume was enough that organizers felt they needed a roomier conveyance to keep up the pace.

"When I first came on the staff of Peoples Church (in 2018), I met with the leadership of Food Share, Henry and Beverly Daniels, in order to become better acquainted with the ministry," said Peoples Church Pastor of Pastoral Care Bill Bates. "He shared with me that on Thursday the volunteers used their own vehicles and gas to pick up the food from the Marion-Polk Food Share's food bank. In that discussion it was mentioned that we really need a box truck of some kind, (especially) due to the sometimes inclement weather."COURTESY OF WOODBURN AUTOMOTIVE - A three-headed woodpecker was among the etchings Woodburn Automotive owner Richard Edmonds put on a van donated to the Peoples Church Food Share.

Edmonds, who is also a U-Haul dealer, caught wind of that and talked with the group about possibly securing a used U-Haul van. They declined, citing a lack of budget for such an expense. Church pastors encouraged congregation members to pray for it.

"We discussed it briefly and then when we concluded we prayed and asked the Lord to provide for us and often mentioned it to one another and continued to pray," Bates said.

The wheels were already turning.

"That was about the same time I got the call from my neighbor, and it just clicked in my head," Edmonds said.

He had a proposal: "I can get you a used 14-foot truck here. … I'll donate this van, and all do all the maintenance on it for free."

No muss, no fuss, right? Well, not exactly.

Edmonds had a good vision of how to realize the contribution, but there proved to be a few snags, setbacks, details to work through and helping hands along with way.

The right truck to fit the need came from a Mollala U-Haul provider; a well-maintained, 2006 van with 100k miles on it. Edmonds had to do a bit of finagling, but succeeded.

The next step was getting some decorous sketching done by a Hubbard sign shop: "Food Share" in gold lettering; a 3-headed woodpecker; a biblical verse that Edmonds particularly liked, Matthew 5:16, because his granddaughter, Hailey Jones, once wrote it down and shared it with him.PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Woodburn Automotive proprietor Richard Edmonds keeps a biblical verse shared with him by his granddaughter taped up on the wall of his office. The verse was also etched on the side of a van Edmonds and his wife, Mary, donated to Peoples Church Food Share.

The 3-headed woodpecker, Edmonds explained, was a term Peoples Church Lead Pastor Scott Erickson used in a sermon once describing communication hurdles ("…people look at me like I'm a 3-headed woodpecker"), and the image so delighted him that he decided to include it on the van.

With that work done he was happy to deliver the church's new service truck on a January weekend.

"I took it to the church and parked it in the huge parking lot," Edmonds said. "Next thing you know, it was vandalized. Someone took a rock hit the windshield and there were no rocks in that parking lot, so they had to carry it in there. Then they used the rock and smashed the driver's side door.

"But they didn't mar the verse."

So Edmonds took the van back, found a shop in Oregon City to replace the windshield and then took it to Bill and Susan Dallas's Mount Angel Body Shop. As it happened, Bill Dallas had a soft spot for the church – that's where he met Susan.

"Yes, we met there in 1991," Dallas said. He assessed the damages, ordered materials and contributed the labor, fixing the van at materials cost.

So on the second try, Peoples Church had its Food Share rig.

"By Friday we had it back at the church," Edmonds said, adding that a more secure parking location was made available. To the congregation, especially volunteers involved with the Food Share program, it was a welcome sight.

"When the Edmunds' approached Henry about the truck, it was a very pleasant surprise; a very tangible answer to our prayers," Bates said. "It is now being used every Thursday to pick up the food and will also be utilized by other departments of the church as needed for luggage, equipment, or whatever. An absolute blessing.

"The Edmunds have been very generous and we are so glad to be the recipient."

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