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Food pours in for senior project

Barlow High's Kalee Adams says Kelly Creek students went above, beyond
by: Carole Archer, Kalee Adams, 17, a senior at Barlow High School, has gathered food donations from Kelly Creek Elementary School. More than 1,000 cans were gathered during the first week of the Snow-CAP Food Drive. Above, she delivers some recent donations from Barlow Preschool to Snow-CAP on Tuesday, Dec. 19.

When she started collecting food for the hungry, Kalee Adams never realized how good her elementary school partners would be.

'I didn't know how much food would be brought in,' says the 17-year-old Barlow High School senior. 'There was so much food. I was worried about finding a place to store it.'

The food collection was Adams' senior project and the young woman employed the entire student body at Kelly Creek Elementary School.

The students at Kelly Creek were divided into four mixed-grade groups and given assigned colors and team names. Although Adams doesn't have a final tally yet, she believes that the group called 'the yellow twisty fries' is well ahead of the 'orange Spaghetti-ohs,' 'blue pink panthers,' and 'green pickle juice' teams.

In one week, the young students collected more than 660 cans of food, and Adams thinks they may have doubled that number in the second week.

'They did a really good job,' Adams says. 'And some of the kids wanted to help me after school. They'd help me make posters and put them up around the school.'

Adams even had the help of her two younger brothers, Austin, 14, a freshman at Barlow High; and Matthew, 8, a second-grader at Kelly Creek.

'Austin got on the ladder to put posters up for me, and Matthew was probably my biggest helper. He stayed after school with me to help every time I was there,' Adams says.

The collected food goes to local families via Snow-CAP Community Charities, a Gresham non-profit that provides food, clothing and personal hygiene items to needy families throughout East County.

Adams says she never realized what a large operation Snow-CAP runs out of its west Gresham headquarters.

'I had heard of them, but I didn't really know too much about Snow-CAP before this,' Adams says. 'I never realized how much work it is. I always thought they were volunteer-based, but it really is an eight-hour-a-day job to get the food, sort it, store it and get it out to people.'

When Adams visited the non-profit, she saw a huge line winding outside the building, filled with families waiting for food boxes.

Snow-CAP administrators told Adams the most-needed items were baby food and baby formula.

'They said the baby formula is always needed because it's so expensive,' Adams says.

She didn't specify baby formula on her list of needed items for the elementary school children, but Adams did put the word out at the Barlow High preschool, where she works part-time as part of her coursework.

The 20 children at the preschool brought in more than 50 cans of food, including some baby food and formula, which made Adams glow with pride.

The daughter of Bob and Shelly Adams, Adams is a very busy girl. She works part-time at Washington Mutual Bank as a teller, volunteers at Gordon Russell Middle School and plans to go to college at Western Oregon University, where she hopes to pursue a teaching degree.

'I like eighth-grade history, but after working with the elementary school kids, I think I might like doing that too,' Adams says.

Prepared to wrap up her senior project, Adams says the work was more difficult than she thought, but was definitely worth the effort.

'Doing this made me feel good,' Adams says. 'And knowing that it goes to the local community and that it's so needed makes it so worth it to me.'

To Help

Who: Snow-CAP

To volunteer: Call Danni at 503-674-8785, ext. 19.

Mission: A volunteer, faith-based organization committed to providing food, clothing and advocacy for the poor.

Needs: The biggest need right now is food. Fruits, vegetables and dairy. Baby formula and baby food are especially needed.

Where: Drop off donations from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday to 17788 S.E. Pine St., Gresham.

Mail donations to: P.O. Box 160, Fairview, 97024

For more information: 503-674-8785.