17-year-old aims to fight hunger with new group

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Zoe Wong takes a break from vending at the Lake Oswego Farmers Market to spend time with a friend, Claire Murphy, left.Zoë Wong’s grandma has been trying to get her interested in knitting for years.

Wong, a Lake Oswego High School senior, said she always started out feeling enthusiastic, happily wrapping yarn around the tips of long, metal needles. Then, her excitement would wane, and she’d abandon the project.

Something clicked for her last winter when she began fashioning a headband for a friend.

“Instead of getting frustrated by dropping stitches and the usual mistakes, I stuck with it,” said Wong, 17. “The feeling after finishing the first one was so exciting that I kept making more.”

Soon afterward, she founded Headbands Fighting Hunger, a nonprofit benefiting the Oregon Food Bank.

“I knew that, one, I loved and was excited about knitting and, two, I wanted to give back somehow,” Wong said.

The food bank long has been one of her favorite charities, and so she chose it as her group’s beneficiary.

Everyone “should get the opportunity to live and flourish without having to worry whether or not they are going to eat dinner that night,” Wong said. “Hunger is an issue that really bothers me, and I am excited about increasing the availability of food for those in need.”

Her goal is to raise $2,000, and she’s more than halfway to it. For every $10 donated, the food bank can distribute enough food for 30 meals, according to the group’s website. 

“It’s really nice to see someone step up like that, really use all of her skills and initiative to launch something that she’s proud of and benefits our organization,” said Pat Kaczmarek, marketing and communications manager for the Oregon Food Bank.

The headbands, which cost $10, are for sale at the Lake Oswego Farmers’ Market this Saturday. It is the third and final time this year Wong will serve as a vendor at the market, held from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Millennium Plaza Park, 200 First St.

It costs $15 for vendors to apply for a spot at the farmers market. It’s usually $35 to $40 for the 10-by-10-foot space that nonprofit vendors use, but there’s no fee for nonprofits.

Wong called the farmers’ market at the beginning of last summer, and Jamie Inglis, market manager, said she’s impressed that the teen was so bold.

“She’s a great young woman, and we’re delighted that she could join us and be part of such an amazing cause,” Inglis said.

Wong is college bound, and she’s likely going to move hours away, possibly to another state.

“I plan to make and sell headbands at least until the end of next summer,” Wong said. “But who knows, maybe this is something I could continue to do in college.”

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