800 impoverished SE Portland families helped in summer food giveaway

Discover who the partners are, and who put on this unprecedented event at Eastport Plaza – no strings attached …

Recipients patiently wait in line at Eastport Plaza, ready to receive packages of food, household goods and clothing.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
After volunteers unloaded two full semi-truck-trailers on the morning of July 10 in the Eastport Plaza parking lot, they started setting up stations where they’d present 2,400 boxes of food, hygiene, and household products to 800 local families in need.

“This is a partnership between The Salvation Army and Feed The Children’s Americans Feeding Americans project,” said Salvation Army Director of Communications and Marketing Teresa Engel, as people lined up for the distribution.

“It’s part of the Americans Feeding Americans Caravan,” Engel told East Portland News. “The caravan goes across the country dropping off food for major distributions, like this one in Southeast Portland.”

The local volunteers, she explained, find a location, organize the distribution, and invite families who come into their centers asking for aid.

Volunteers Christina Chavez, Andrew Watson, and Jackie Campbell check-in recipients at the charitable distribution.

Salvation Army Captain Raymond Dihle, as well as Director of Communications and Marketing Teresa Engel and Community Events Coordinator Amy Bogdon, pause for a photo at the event.

“Some of those here have vouchers they received through our outreach,” Engel said. “Others, who learn about it through their friends or other community sources, can sign up right here. No one in need is turned away.”

These programs are important, Salvation Army Captain Raymond Dihle remarked, “Because people are hungry, and in need of the simplest of things. The need for food and personal hygiene products – simple things that many people take for granted – continues to stay at a high level.”

An army of volunteers, many from Inner Southeast Portland, help with the distribution.

Salou Chaem, and her children – Amelia and Toby – get help receiving their goods from volunteer Nichole Shepherd.

The pre-packaged boxes contained canned foods and other non-perishable items, household products such as paper towels and toilet paper, hygiene items like soap and deodorant, and household cleaners. A popular line led to the station for socks – available in toddler to adult sizes.

The Salvation Army corps of volunteers and staff were joined by about 80 volunteers from civic organizations – and the business community joined in to help move the recipients through check-in, then to the stations to receive their boxes of food and goods.

“This helps my family so much,” said Salou Chaem, as she picked up her boxes with the help of volunteer Nichole Shepherd. “Today, I am very very happy.”

> On our Front Page, volunteer James Luu restacks boxes at the event.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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