SE Portland ‘toy drive’ named best in city

From lovers of pugs to bugs, all kinds of clubs line up to drop off toys for needy kids at Eastport Plaza …

A dozen “Bugs”, from the Portland-area Absolutely Volkswagen Club, line up – as their drivers drop off toys at the Eastport Plaza site on December 1.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As the frenzied holiday shopping season gets under way, many vehicles pulling into shopping malls will leave packed with gifts to be placed under the Christmas tree.

But on December 1, a steady line of vehicles that pulled into Eastport Plaza, on SE 82nd Avenue of Roses just north of Holgate, arrived full of new toys – and left empty. Their drivers were participating in an area-wide toy drive.

Many of those who donated came individually. But we also saw groups of vehicles, whose drivers belong to various clubs, lining up to make donations. One set of cars sported canine companions – and many of the pug pups inside were dressed in costume.

Soon after, a squadron of “bugs” lined up outside the “NewsChannel 8 Toy Drive” collection trailer.

“We’re from the Absolutely Volkswagen Club,” explained member John Jenson who was driving his ’63 VW Bug convertible. “It’s a good thing to do.”

Volunteers Kiri Griebel and Jenna Hollinger work with NewsChannel 8’s Kelly Schweiger, telling us that this Southeast Portland location hosts one of the best toy drop-off events in all of Portland.

4th year at Eastport Plaza
“Participating in this event is one way we’re involved with the community we serve,” said Eastport Plaza’s manager Ken Turner. “Offering our site for the toy collection drive is one small way of helping our community.”

Most of the toys collected at the event will go to local nonprofit organizations on the east side, Turner added. “The Wattles Boys & Girls Club in Lents and the Meyer Boys & Girls Club in Sellwood benefit directly from the generosity of Southeast Portlanders today.”

Turner said the organizers of the toy drive say this particular toy collection event is one of the largest in the city. “It is a good indication how much people care about others in their neighborhoods.”

Kids learn joy of giving
We watch as children bring brand new toys to the volunteers at the collection truck, and we agree with Turner who observed, “When you see the smiles on the faces of little kids when the bring up a gift they know will go to a needy child warms your heart. It shows that these children are already learning the true spirit of Christmas.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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