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SnowCap annual auction attracts hundreds

Organization helps 9,000 low-income people a month in East Multnomah County

Almost 350 people are expected to attend the annual SnowCap Community Charities dinner-auction at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 12, in the Portland Airport Holiday Inn, 8439 N.E. Columbia Blvd.

The silent auction begins at 5 p.m., and the dinner and live auction commence at 7 p.m.CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: LEEANN GAUTHIER - Fred Eberle, left, volunteers weekly as a truck driver for SnowCap. His wife, Becky Eberle, is the low-income program manager for longtime SnowCap dinner-auction sponsor Pacific Power.

The annual event is SnowCap’s major fundraiser, raising $119,000. More than 9,000 people in East Multnomah County depend on SnowCap for donated food or clothing each month, and a multigenerational crew of 1,000 volunteers helps the nonprofit organization run.

“Faced with stagnant wages and rapidly rising rents more and more working people are turning to food pantries like SnowCap to put food on their tables,” says Judy Alley, SnowCap’s executive director. “This auction helps us meet this growing need.”

Sponsors this year include PacifiCorp, Les Schwab Tire Centers, Boeing, Portland General Electric, Parkrose Community United Church of Christ, Covenant Presbyterian Church, Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Perkins Coie, Gulde Orquist, Annie and Ken Edwards, Alyson Huntting and Sally Guadina, Walsh Trucking and Clackamas County Bank.

Rep. Carla Piluso, D-Gresham, will serve as master of ceremonies, and JillMarie Wiles of Beneficial Auction Services will serve as auctioneer.

Items to be auctioned include a Breitling watch donated by Boeing. The silent auction will feature more than 300 items.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: ALICIA BIASTOCK - Anna Zakelj, near right, stands with the hallway mural she designed for SnowCap Community Charities. Zakelj is an intern from Indiana helping on a variety of projects.New mural

SnowCap’s first floor hallway sports a new painted mural created by a group of volunteers led by Anna Zakelj, 19, an intern working for SnowCap. Zakelj came to SnowCap through Brethren Volunteer Service, which sends volunteers around the world on one- and two-year assignments.

Zakelj has performed such tasks as client intake and pantry work for SnowCap, and says she studied art in high school in Indiana.

“The hallway is kind of dark and windowless, and it seemed like it would be nice to have something a little brighter in there,” she says.

She and the volunteers took about three weeks to complete the project, which was unveiled Feb. 25.

"The mural is a ray of sunshine at SnowCap,” said Kirsten Wageman, SnowCap's assistant director. “It adds to the warm welcome our volunteers extend to clients."

School lends help

Students at West Orient Middle School recently collected hundreds of food items for SnowCap, said Joe Cioeta, a math and choir teacher, leadership adviser and organizer of the school’s Leadership Club.

“Instead of doing a Valentine's Day themed spirit day, they wanted to spread the love somehow,” Cioeta said. “They decided on a food drive competition between grades called ‘Share the Love of Food Drive.’”

The students made signs and announcements, got staff involved, even planned an assembly complete with staff vs. student sports games to announce the winner of which grade-level brought in the most non-perishables for the drive.

Over a week and half, West Orient students collected 3,577 items for SnowCap. Eighth graders won the competition, collecting 1,497 items. The sixth grade took second place, collecting 1,471, and the seventh graders came in third with 609.

“The SnowCap driver came out to the school on Feb. 26 only to turn around and say, 'I need to go get a bigger truck!' When the bigger truck showed up later, the leadership students helped the driver load the new truck.”

Dutch treat

Dutch Bros. held its annual Dutch Luv Day on Feb. 14, and raised more than $234,030 for food banks like SnowCap, in seven states. This year, all Dutch Bros locations donated $1 from every drink sold that day. On average a $1 donation allows food banks to purchase 7 pounds of food, according to information at dutchbros.com.

Alley says SnowCap received a check for $4,600 from Dutch Bros., which operates two shops in Gresham.

“I was totally bowled over to receive a check from Dutch Bros,” Alley says. “It was a great hit with everyone, and we can buy a lot of food with that.”

Alley adds that folks seeking to donate food to SnowCap should consider small non-perishable items.

“Our big push now is to offer foods that fit particular situations,” Alley said.

For instance, she says, SnowCap is putting emergency food boxes in schools and low income housing complexes. The boxes contain small sizes of nonperishables so they can be both carried and stored easily, she added, noting they might go in backpacks for children or homeless folks. 

“These smaller sizes are more expensive that the larger sizes traditionally donated in food collections,” she said. “On the night of the March 12 dinner-auction there will be several of these smaller, more targeted food boxes on display.”

For more information, visit snowcap.org.

EDITOR'S NOTE: In addition to writing for The Outlook, Rob Cullivan works in public relations for SnowCap.