Celebrating 30 years of helping the homeless during the Holidays

You’ll be amazed, when you see what goes into a party that Parkrose High PACE students organize – year after year …

Parkrose PACE juniors Kayla Serean and Hanna Gross pick and pack bags containing hygiene products into bags that will be given to the homeless.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For almost twice as long as many of the Parkrose High School “Parkrose Center of Alternative Education (PACE)” students have been alive – the young people in this program have been helping Portland’s down-and-out have a happier Holiday season.

“We’re celebrating the 30th anniversary of our ‘Homeless Project’, this year,” reported PACE instructor Evan McFadden.

In addition to helping out at homeless shelters, the students also put together about 400 personal hygiene bags for the homeless, McFadden said, as he introduced one of this year’s project leaders.

Student organizer, and Parkrose PACE senior, Brenda Barragan looks up from packing a deodorant into the gift bag.

“I helped organize and set up the shelter, and we will be attending,” Parkrose PACE senior Brenda Barragan told East Portland News while working in her classroom at this Mid-County school.

“I also did a lot of phone calling, and made sure that we are going to be able to visit our shelters. My friend Kelsey helped out when we went to the [Parkrose] School Board meeting to talk about the Homeless Project this year.”

PACE students Kevin Walker, Angel Carreon, and Noe Angel pack razors and shaving cream into Homeless Project gift bags.

More than learning how to coordinate a project and work together, Barragan said they also learned “life lessons” during the project.

“This is important, because we need to learn what some people in our community are going through. It helps me feel fortunate, because I have a home; but I realize many people do not.”

Having participated in the Homeless Project last year, Barragan said that afterward, going into the Holidays, “It feels good, it feels like an accomplishment. It’s something that these homeless people don’t get to have every day, so it feels really good.”

Working as a team, students quickly pack a wide variety of personal hygiene products into the bags.

In a semicircle production line on tables placed around a large classroom, students inserted colorful tissue paper in heavy plastic cosmetic bags, and others put in dental and feminine hygiene products, razors and shaving cream, shampoos, brushes and combs, deodorant, and socks.

“We thank all the individuals and businesses in the area – many of whom have contributed products or money for many years,” McFadden said.

PACE instructors Carol Hanson, Evan McFadden, and Karmin Williams step back, saying the students handle this project capably on their own.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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