Christmas bags readied for Portland’s homeless

Parkrose students again prepare hygiene kits for hundreds of folks who are living on the street …

Situated around lab tables at Parkrose High School, these PACE students get ready to stuff bags with items destined to become “hygiene kits” for Portland’s homeless.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As they have for decades, students at Parkrose Alternative Center of Education (PACE) gathered around tables in a science lab room on the second floor of Parkrose High School on the morning of December 18.

Piled high on the lab benches were boxes containing soap, shaving cream, shampoo, toothpaste, and tooth brushes.

Co-Point-Persons and Parkrose High seniors Taylor Miera and Glen Schmitz say their team is ready to pack up lots of kits – each including a handmade greeting card from a class member.

“We’re working to make 420 hygiene kits,” explained Parkrose High senior, and a Co-Point-Person for the project, Taylor Miera.

All of the items stuffed into these bags were donated by sponsors, or were purchased using funds donated to their project, she said. “This means we need to have on hand hundreds of each product, so every bag gets one each of the items we’ve gathered.”

The project is organized so that each of the students involved have different responsibilities, Miera explained. “I was chosen to be a Point Person, and others are assigned different roles.”

Brand new socks are just one of the items that Parkrose senior Hanna Gross says goes in the kits.

Parkrose senior Hanna Gross was a “phone caller” – she’s the one who contacted East Portland News, and also the person who asked companies for donations.

“We collected donations from teachers, other staff members, students, parents, and companies in the community,” Gross said. “We got both products and cash donations.”

She said she thought the 57 students involved in the project feel as she does. “This is an important project, because it will be a Holiday gift to people who don’t usually get a Holiday gift. It helps out those in our community who have very little.”

In addition to the participating students getting class credit, and having something to put on their resume, Gross added, “This project helps us all feel really nice, and we’re doing something good for others during the Holidays.”

PACE students Jasmin Sanchez, Ruthy Ciurar, Kevin Rivas, and Jose Hernandez are having fun as they pack up the kits.

Checking in on the “production line”, PACE Instructor Evan McFadden helps facilitate the packing of hundreds of hygiene kits the students will deliver to homeless shelters the following day.

PACE Instructor Evan McFadden gave final instructions to the class – much as he has, this time of year, for the past 27 years.

“Ours is the only group that I’m aware of, that actually puts together personal hygiene kits for homeless,” McFadden said.

“As you heard, because of their work throughout the year, hundreds of homeless clients will find these on their bunks when they come back from breakfast on Christmas morning. For some of them, this gift will be the only Christmas present they receive this year.”

Then, Miera said, “We start taking donations for the homeless project on the day after this project ends.

“If you get a call from us, please consider supporting our program!”

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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