Food drive: Need substantialy greater in ’09

October 2009 Posted in Community

By Jan JacksonMelody Harpole of Harpole\'s Produce, shown at Silverton Farmer\'s Market, regularly donates produce to SACA for the food bank.

The volunteers and staff at Silverton Area Community Aid are getting ready to launch the 33rd annual Food Drive. Between Oct. 12 and 16, SACA volunteers will deliver empty sacks to doorsteps and community members will be asked to fill them with nonperishable items and set them out for pick-up by 9 a.m. on Oct. 17.

A nonprofit agency, SACA provides emergency food, financial assistance and resource information to those in need who live (including homeless and transit people) within the boundaries of the Silver Falls School District.

Executive Director Dixon Bledsoe has seen a sharp increase in the need for services in the past six months. With the winter season approaching, he knows busier days are ahead. Just the amount of money going out to help those with eviction notices has a stunning 90 percent increase over 2008.

“Clients are eligible to receive only one food box a month, and one-time help with rent, utilities or other needs,” Bledsoe said. “Once in a while we will hear someone ask about how many people are abusing the system but in Silverton 98 percent of the people we see certainly are not. We try to give a hand up to people who need short-term help and even then, many are reticent about asking for it.”

SACA October Food Drive
Oct. 12 – 17, 2009
To volunteer call 503-873-3446

SACA staff and volunteers are quick to credit community members for its ability to assist families and laud the year-round donations of food from local grocery stores, area growers, producers and concerned citizens.

Its funding base, which includes a United Way grant and a modest but steady stream of private contributions, helps operate the program and buy needed goods and services they can’t get any other way.

Literally hundreds of volunteers make the program possible by working thousands of hours. One wine auction fundraiser brought in more than $10,000 in one evening, and a private couple matched the funds.

The $20,000 is being put to use helping those who need it most.

Silverton resident Dave Richter, known affectionately among food bank volunteers as SACA Dave, has volunteered for SACA since 2006. In 2007, he and fellow volunteers from the Silverton Immanuel Lutheran Church, started designating the second Sunday of every month as the day to bring in food for SACA.

Items need for food bank boxes
Peanut butter and cans of tuna, salmon etc.;
cheese, butter and eggs (must have receipt
from same-day purchase from retail store);
soups; coffee, sugar, Top Ramen, macaroni
and cheese; chili; pasta; fruit juice;
school lunch snacks; cereall; baby food (jars);
cake mixes and Jell-O for the holidays.
Personal items: shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant,
large diapers (Sizes 5-6).

“We as a congregation already supported a world-wide food resource bank, but two years ago decided it would be good to support the food bank in our own community as well,” Richter said. “When we started, the food we collected filled a shopping cart and now we fill that plus the top and underneath side of an 8-foot table. We have members who volunteer their time, their money and just last month alone we brought them 800 pounds of food. This congregation as well as the community is filled with good and regular givers.”
SACA, which served 4,776 individuals during the first six months of 2009 compared with 4,318 during the same period in 2008, is appealing to the community to get the shelves stocked with non-perishable items to help meet the needs that come during the lean winter months.

“It is hard to realize that one out of seven households in Marion County may not have enough food for their next meal. However big or small, the donation is greatly appreciated,” Bledsoe said. “I’ve also had some heart-warming experiences in the short time I’ve been here. One very young girl came in and donated the $3 dollars she had saved up just to do her part giving back. Another time I came to work to find two young brothers waiting outside the door offering to sweep, dust, sort cans or do anything else we needed as thanks for helping their family. Helping people like that let’s me sleep very well at night.”

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