Newberg resident honors best friend by helping those in need, starts nonprofit

It took Bonny Dawson more than a year to decide how to honor her best friend after her death. But now that she’s decided which route to take, she’s approaching it full force.

“Now, I’ll hopefully help a lot of people,” Dawson said.

She started “Candace Cares,” named after her friend, Candace Meyenburg, as an organization built around the idea of helping the homeless GARY ALLEN - Philanthropy - Bonny Dawson started ‘Candace Cares,' in memory of her friend Candace Meyenburg who died last year. Through the organization she is distributing ‘Blessing Bags,' to those in need.

Candace Cares creates what Dawson calls “blessing bags.” These are gallon-sized bags filled with toiletries, first-aid supplies, nonperishable food, gloves, hats and a poncho.

“Blessing bags contain items that most people take for granted,” she said. “My original plan was to make 40 of these by myself, but now that there are other people involved I’ve got about 200 so far to hand out in December.”

Those involved include herself, her husband, Meyenburg’s 3-year-old son, a few people from her workplace and her neighbor — who is a senior at Newberg High School and making Candace Cares his senior project.

Although she intends to talk with 2nd Street Community Church about where the bags are needed locally, she also has a trip to Portland planned for mid-December.

She said she’s waiting until December to hand out the carloads of goods because she’s expecting a large donation from a friend and wants to include those goods in the distribution.

“Right now I’m working to get the word out,” she said. “If have you extra (items to include in the blessing bags), I’ll definitely take them.”

The concept for Candace Cares came from an article she read posted on Facebook.

“I saw someone posted an article about keeping bags in your car to hand out when you’re driving if you see someone, and I thought that was a great idea,” she said. “I’m trying to make one person’s day brighter.”

For now, since the organization has only been going for about a month, she only has the one trip to Portland planned, as well as distribution as needed throughout Yamhill County. But she said she plans on making this a long-term project.

For more information or to donate items for the blessing bags, visit the group’s Facebook page at 174ZYve or email Dawson at [email protected]

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