Parkrose church makes gift baskets for cops, medical folks

Find out which outer East Portland faith organization has created and given dozens of ‘The Light of the World Gift Baskets’ to medical and police workers …

In the Parkrose neighborhood, these volunteers – members of the La Luz del Mundo Church – fulfill their commitment to be of service to their community by preparing gift baskets, and by providing pantry services.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Tucked away in the Parkrose neighborhood, on NE 106th Avenue between NE Sandy Boulevard and Wygant Street, is the La Luz del Mundo Church, serving primarily an Spanish-speaking congregation.

This faith community has been active in the area in ways one might not expect – such as by helping out during NE Sandy Boulevard Street Clean-up day.

As the COVID-19 coronavirus was spreading, members of the church took on two more community-minded tasks: Creating and presenting “Light of the World Gift Baskets” to hospital workers and police officers; and establishing a community pantry.

Standing by some gift baskets that are ready to be given to hospital workers, here’s project organizer Keren Melissa.

On May 3, a group of volunteers was assembling baskets, and tending to the pantry.

“‘La Luz del Mundo’ [translated: The Light of the World] was started in 1926; so we’ve been here for quite a while,” smiled the gift basket program coordinator, Keren Melissa. “We believe ourselves to be the restoration of the primitive church of Israel and are its continuation, with many members worshiping in 60 countries around the world.”

Along with each gift basket was a handmade “thank you card”, drawn by church members’ children.

She, and two others, created the gift baskets containing snacks, fruits, and beverages – using sanitary procedures, of course – before wrapping them up in protective plastic.

“Many of our gift baskets we take to health professionals; yesterday, we delivered some to Emmanuel, Good Samaritan Hospital, and we’re taking them to OHSU, as well as to the Portland Police Bureau North precinct,” Melissa told East Portland News.

Here packing gift baskets are volunteers Loida Mar and Diana Demara.

Asked what inspired these efforts, the organizer replied, “We’ve always been taught by the Servant of God, Naasón Joaquín García, always to give back – to provide community service – because we are part of the community.

“One of the ways that we can do that is by giving these baskets of cheer to medical people on the ‘front lines’ of the pandemic,” Melissa said.

The effort has been received well, she said. “Actually, the reception has been great; they were really happy to receive them. It’s not so much that they really need what’s in the baskets, it’s the idea that they’re being recognized for what they’re doing.

“Like yesterday we gave baskets to the medical people that were taking care of 20 patients afflicted with COVID-19,” revealed Melissa.

Tending the pantry is volunteer and church member Efrain Valverde who says, “I’m happy to be helping”.

Hosting community pantry
Also in their workroom were several tables, laden with paper goods, and supplies like paper towels, toilet paper, and facial tissue. There were also cleaning supplies and other household items. And further down the table were a variety of prepared and packaged foods.

“Anyone in our community who doesn’t have the resources to get food can contact one of the members of the church, and we can provide them with some basic necessities; we have a little bit of everything,” Melissa explained.

“All of these items are donated by the church members; it’s from all of us, to our community,” she said.

La Luz del Mundo Church is situated at 4715 NE 106th Avenue, 97220; phone (503) 719-5970. To see their Facebook page, CLICK HERE.

© 2020 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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