Parkrose PACE students prepare holiday homeless help

Discover why these teenagers say they look forward to cleaning and stocking shelters for the down-and-out. And, learn how you can help their selfless mission right now …

Ted Kooy, General Manager of the Courtyard by Marriott Airport, made his the first business to donate to the PACE Homeless Project this year. Accepting the gift are students on the PACE Media team: Alyssa Bryant, a junior, Susie Kay, a senior, and sophomore Mary Wilkerson.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
The way our society has evolved – and especially during this time of year – it seems that typical kids are more interested in getting than giving.

But, for 25 years, students engaged in the Parkrose Alternative Center of Education (PACE) program at Parkrose High School work joyfully and tirelessly throughout November and December on the “PACE Homeless Project”.

“Each year, we get together in class and collect donated materials,” explains PACE media team spokesperson Alyssa Bryant.

“On December 20, we help clean and decorate two downtown homeless shelters, and bring them toiletry bags. The products in their gift bags give them the chance to clean up and feel better about themselves,” explains Bryant.

“It is exciting to work on this project,” says Susie Kay, Senior in the PACE program. “I can’t wait until we go on the field trip.”

Mary Wilkerson, a sophomore, and in her first year of the PACE program adds, “I like helping the homeless. It makes me feel good about myself. Around the holidays this will really help these people.”

Shelters praise the PACE project
“The people who run the shelters are very positive about this project,” says instructor Evan McFadden, a PACE teacher for over 20 years.

“When the homeless shelter residents wake up Christmas morning, they’ll find a package – a hygene kit, filled with soap, shaving gear, shampoos, and perhaps socks,” McFadden tells us. “Some are so grateful; they’ve sent cards back to us.”

Courtyard by Marriott Airport pitches in
We caught up with the PACE team as they make their first stop to pick up a donation for their Homeless Project at the Courtyard by Marriott Airport on East Airport Way.

The general manager, Ted Kooy, greets the students with bags of toiletry items.

“This is our fifth year donating to the project,” mentions Kooy. We’ve got a case of lotion, in addition to soaps and shampoos for the project. These are same toiletry items we supply in the guest rooms.”

Asked why they contribute to the project, Kooy says, “We’re an active member of the community. We have enough to share; we’re happy to help.”

You can, and should, help
The PACE Homeless Project accepts donations through December 19.

They need toiletry items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, shampoo, soaps, shaving cream, razors and deodorant. The small “travel sizes” work best.

They also need clothing and blankets – but they don’t have laundry facilities. Please donate new items, or make sure what you’re giving is very clean and in very good condition.

“We also accept cash donations,” reminds Bryant. “About two days before we take in the kits, we see what we’re short of, and buy extra items that the shelter needs.”

To donate, call Evan McFadden at (503) 408-2623, or e-mail him at evan_mcfadden@parkrose.k12.or.us. They’ll come to you and pick up your donation.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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