Online voters recognize charitys food bank network efforts

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Miller Insurance employees Leslie Thomas and Karen Decker volunteer at the Tualatin School House Pantry. Their company helped the organization secure a $10,000 grant.It was a close one, but in the end, Tualatin School House Pantry beat 19 other nonprofits across the country to become one of four recipients of a $10,000 grant.

Through the SAFECO Make More Happen campaign the voters, it seemed, had spoken.

The national contest selected 23 “independent agent volunteers” — companies who encourage employees to give back to the community. Each one submitted photo slide shows detailing how the company devoted its time.

Miller Insurance President Ryan Miller said the award emphasized his company’s efforts to “inspire clients, give back to the community and have fun,” and encouraged area residents to vote for them through Aug. 19, so that School House could eventually collect a total of $12,000.

A member of the Oregon Food Bank network, Tualatin School House Pantry is open three days a week to distribute emergency food boxes to residents of Tualatin, Durham, Lake Oswego and West Linn. Last year, School House gave out 632,000 pounds of food to nearly 700 families. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, volunteers help consumers put together personalized food boxes according to family needs. Eligible families are able to collect one five-day food supply each month.

The organization has served the community for the past eight years, and relies heavily on local donations, which comprise more than 5,000 pounds of food each month.

It is an important achievement for a necessary organization: In Tualatin, 3,608 residents — or 13.6 percent of the city — live at or below the poverty line, according to U.S. Census data.

By U.S. Department of Health and Human Services guidelines, to be placed at the poverty line, an individual must have a pre-tax annual income of no more than $11,490, and a family of four must have a pre-tax annual income of no more than $23,550. This is generally the threshold at which households are deemed eligible for federal assistance programs.

School House was also recognized by the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce in May with the Outstanding Community Service award.

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