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HOPE food pantry at the Oregon City church is open from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. every Monday

"All these donations are from the heart of the church," said Vi Lockwood, as she looked at a mound of garments destined for the Clothesline, a free clothes closet at the Oregon City Church of the Nazarene.

PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - From left, Carole King, Tonia Walker and Michelle Condit confer about where to put non-perishable items in the food pantry at the Oregon City Church of the Nazarene.The Oregon City resident has volunteered with the clothes closet and the food pantry at the church for five years because she likes "the process of helping others who really need it."

Carole King, another volunteer, said that the OC Church of the Nazarene is one of five churches in the Helping Other People Eat, or HOPE, network. It is the only church that has evening hours for its food pantry and clothes closet.

HOPE food pantry

The HOPE food pantry at the OC Church of the Nazarene is open from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. every Monday.

"We open the doors at 5 p.m., and people can come inside and wait until 6:30 p.m., when we open," King said.

Each person is given a sign-in sheet, and there are tables with volunteers working at computers to check each one in.

The process is an Oregon Food Bank requirement. Each person gets a number and a cart, and volunteers take shoppers through the kitchen, where everything is free.

"This way, they can pick out what they can really use," King said.

Shoppers have a choice of refrigerated, frozen and nonperishable items, plus fresh vegetables, bread and dairy products.

"Then the volunteers escort the shoppers out. People are allowed to come once a month," King said.

While parents are shopping, volunteer Janet Stiefel supervises a play and craft area for children.

The Oregon Food Bank supplies some of the food, along with donations from three local Safeway stores and the West Linn Market of Choice, King said.

Clothesline

King has volunteered at the church for 14 years and started with the Clothesline, which provides free clothes for families in need.

Parishioners donate items, and King noted there is a pressing need right now for baby clothes and men's clothes.

The Clothesline is open the same hours as the food pantry, but also is open from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Thursdays.

"People can come during those times and fill a big kitchen bag with clothes," King said.

How to help

About 40 members of the congregation volunteer with the food pantry and the Clothesline, but community volunteers outside of the church are more than welcome, King said. Male volunteers are especially needed to help lift heavy items and drive to stores to pick up food.

Men are specifically needed from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturdays for bread pickup, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Mondays for grocery pickup and set-up, and from 10:45 a.m. to noon Wednesdays for freight delivery and shelf stocking.

Potential volunteers are asked to contact the Clackamas County Volunteer Connection, and ask for Wendy Hays, who does background checks for the churches, King said.

The community can drop off nonperishable food from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at the church.

"We follow Oregon Food Bank guidelines [for food donations]. All nonperishables cannot be more than two years past their sell-by date," said Michelle Condit, the head of the food pantry.

"Baby food has to be current," King said, adding that during the summer, people may bring in extra produce from their gardens.

"We can't take dairy and meat" donations, Condit said.

Although the food pantry is only open two hours once a week, "we served 1,591 families last year, and that is approximately 6,550 people," King said, adding that volunteers put in more than 12,000 hours last year.

Helping others

Condit has been a church volunteer for eight years and has been the head of the Oregon City Church of the Nazarene food pantry for one year.

"I've been hungry and understand what it is," she said. "This is my fun. I really enjoy being with people and helping people.

"It gets you beyond yourself. When you meet others [in need], your own situation becomes very small," she said.

"The people who come here, when they find something, they are so thankful. They ask us to thank all the people who have given donations."

Help those less fortunate

What: Helping Other People Eat is an organization of five Oregon City churches that serve clients from the following ZIP codes: 97004, 97013, 97027, 97045, 97068 and 97267.

The pantries are distribution sites for the USDA and the Oregon Food Bank. USDA income guidelines apply. Clients need to bring identification to establish proof of address.

Food pantry schedules:

6:30-8:30 p.m. Mondays, Oregon City Church of the Nazarene, 716 Taylor St. Call 503-656-6536.

n 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays, First Presbyterian Church, 1321 Linn Ave. Call 503-656-7444.

1-4 p.m. Wednesdays, United Methodist Church Cornerstone Community Center, 18955 South End Road. Call 503-656-3433.

4-5 p.m. Thursdays, St. Vincent DePaul St. John's Catholic Church, Fourth and Center St. Call 503-742-8200.

1-4 p.m. Fridays, First Baptist Church of Oregon City, 819 John Adams. Call 503-656-3854.

Volunteer: Volunteers are always welcome. Call Wendy Hays with Clackamas County Volunteer Connection, at 503-650-5796 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

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