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Lessons in giving

Trillium Creek fourth-graders collect, sort food for the West Linn Food Pantry

When Trillium Creek Primary School fourth-graders visited the West Linn Food Pantry Friday, they had a simple goal: to beat their record of 968 pounds of food collected and donated last year.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: KATE HOOTS - Trillium Creek Primary School fourth-graders Ava Reyes, left, and Addison Sobotta work together to carry a heavy box of canned food donations to be weighed at the West Linn Food Pantry on Friday.The students were not the only ones heading to the food pantry last week. Jennifer Loney, the food pantry’s co-director, said that around this time of year, the pantry receives higher than usual numbers of donations — as well as higher than usual numbers of families seeking food assistance.

“Our biggest push is around the holidays,” Loney said. “That’s what sustains us through the year. We always look really flush at the holidays, but by the time we hit September we’re empty again.”

The food pantry had received a record number of visitors Nov. 21, the day before the fourth-graders’ visit, Loney said. She explained that because the food pantry would be closed the following week, families were stocking up.

“(Nov. 21) was our largest day of the year,” she said. “We had 40 families in a two-hour period.” That number was close to double the weekly average of around 22 families.

“We had 200 or 250 cups of yogurt. The last family got the last of the yogurt,” Loney said.

The food pantry is not designed to be a family’s primary source of food. Items received from the pantry are meant to supplement a family’s existing food supply.

Addressing the fourth-graders, Loney emphasized the role their volunteerism plays in the community.

“You guys are starting the process for us,” she said. “The people who get the food you’re bringing live in West Linn or Lake Oswego. The people you are helping are your neighbors.”

Between 220 and 240 families are expected to visit the pantry between now and Christmas. They will receive traditional foods like turkey and stuffing as well as extras like pancake mix and syrup so they can enjoy a special breakfast Christmas morning if they choose.

Each family also will be eligible to choose two gifts per child, Loney said. Donated toys are sorted by age and gender in a back room. Parents can visit the room and choose items to wrap and surprise their children with.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: KATE HOOTS - Moiz Tremazi, left, and Garrett Jackson visit the West Linn Food Pantry on Friday with their class of Trillium Creek Primary School fourth-graders.Before visiting the food pantry, the fourth-graders had created posters to hang in the school and wrote and presented skits about hunger and food insecurity. Their efforts were about more than collecting food, however.

“Our goal is to instill the value of community service,” teacher Grant Lemke said.

The goal this year, Lemke said, was to break the 1,000-pound mark. The fourth-graders visited the pantry in three classroom groups Friday. The food they collected was also divided into three roughly equal groups.

Lemke’s class was the first, and their assigned donations totaled 631 pounds, a figure that impressed fourth-grader Ava Sechrist.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: KATE HOOTS - Avery Briggs, a fourth-grader at Trillium Creek Primary School, checks the expiration dates on cans of food donated to the West Linn Food Pantry on Friday.“Our goal was 1,000 pounds,” Ava said. “I think that’s pretty good for one-third of the donations.”

She predicted that the total after all three classes had visited would easily beat last year’s number.

“I think we’re doing a little better,” she said.

She was right. After the last of the three fourth-grade classes had visited the food pantry to sort the school’s donations, pantry volunteers released the day’s final tally.

The 492 students at Trillium Creek collected more than a ton of food for the West Linn Food Pantry. The total of 2,118 pounds represents nearly 4.5 pounds for each child in kindergarten through fifth grade.

The lesson the students gained, however, was more than can be measured.

“It’s fun,” Ava said. “And it makes me feel good that I’ve done my part.”

Learn more

The West Linn Food Pantry is located in Willamette United Methodist Church, at 1683 Willamette Falls Drive in West Linn. For more information, including hours, visit westlinnfoodpantry.com or call 503-915-9446.

Kate Hoots can be reached at 503-636-1281, ext. 112 or khoots@westlinntidings.com. Follow her on Twitter: @CommuniKater.


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