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Fill a grocery bag for the hungry in East County

SnowCap has seen need more than double
by: jim Clark Bess Wills, left, Gresham Ford general manager, and Casey Ryan, Riverview Community Bank vice president and branch manager in East County, hold bags that will be used to collect food for SnowCap. The bags were inserted in the Wednesday, Nov. 16, edition of The Gresham Outlook. Donors can also help by donating money, using the envelope attached to the bags.

East Multnomah County is unfortunately awash in hunger, but Outlook readers have a chance to take direct action to help families in need.

The Wednesday, Nov. 16, edition of the newspaper contained an empty grocery bag ready to be filled with nonperishable food to be donated to the hungry. Whatever food is collected will be contributed to SnowCap Community Charities - which provides emergency food to low-income households.

This is the second year for the East County food drive, which originated with Riverview Community Bank. Casey Ryan, the bank's vice president and branch manager in East County, says Riverview has been leading food drives for 12 years on the Washington side of the Columbia River. But Ryan, a Troutdale resident, has a larger vision for what can happen in East Multnomah County.

'The grand view is that, eventually, this community will have the biggest food drive in Oregon,' Ryan says.

If that happens, the drive could go a long way toward meeting a growing need. SnowCap Executive Director Judy Alley reports that the demand for emergency food is the highest in her 20-year experience at the charity.

'While we used to feel busy serving 4,000 people a month, we are now feeding almost 10,000 each month,' she says.

Ryan and other major sponsors of the food drive - including The Outlook, Gresham Ford, Classique Floors and the West Columbia Rotary - have set a goal of collecting 300,000 pounds of food. That's nearly double the 180,000 pounds raised last year, but Ryan says it's just a start.

'Next year, I'll say 500,000 (pounds),' he says.

The 300,000 pounds would meet SnowCap's needs for just two months, Ryan notes, which is just another indication of how large the need is. However, he also says the food drive's network of supporters expanded this year.

More than 50 volunteers, for example, showed up at Gresham Ford on Nov. 8 to fold bags so they could be inserted into the newspaper.

To participate, you don't have to have a grocery bag that was inserted in the newspaper. Any paper grocery bag will do.

SnowCap also is accepting monetary donations.

The goal is to get people to stuff paper grocery bags full of food, and then stuff a check into an envelope and include that with the food donation.

The 300,000-pound goal may be ambitious, but Ryan is confident East County will come through.

'We have so many more people involved this year, I think we can do it,' Ryan says

Once filled, the grocery bags can be taken to any of the following locations:

• The Gresham Outlook office, 1190 N.E. Division St., Gresham.

• Gresham Ford, 1940 E. Powell Boulevard, Gresham.

• Classique Floors, 14127 S.E. Stark St., Portland.

• Troutdale City Hall, 104 S.E. Kibling Ave.

• Fairview City Hall, 1300 N.E. Village St.

• Riverview Community Bank, Wood Village branch (inside Walmart).

• Riverview Community Bank, Gateway branch, 10401 N.E. Halsey St., Portland.

• West Columbia Gorge Chamber offices, 226 W. Historic Columbia River Highway, Troutdale.

• Dr. Scott Hansen, DMD, office, 501 N.E. Hood Ave., Suite 333, Gresham.

• Advance Care Chiropractic, 837 E. Powell Blvd., Gresham.

• Fairlawn Village, 1280 N.E. Kane Dr., Gresham.

• Metro East Community Media, 829 N.E. Eighth St., Gresham.

• SnowCap Community Charities, 17805 S.E. Stark St.