Portland, OR. The Oregon Legislature’s Emergency Board approved a $2.9 million investment in emergency food assistance through the Oregon Food Bank Network — a critical allocation at a time when nearly one in five state residents face hunger. The measure will increase the amount of nutritious food available at Oregon pantries and meal sites over the course of the next three months, as the ongoing pandemic continues to impact area communities. The Legislative Emergency Board funds allocated earlier this month will help to address rising food insecurity across Oregon in the wake of COVID-19.
Oregon Food Bank officials say they still need donations to meet the growing need of local families.
CEO Susannah Morgan reacted to the legislative action: “The Emergency Board’s investment comes at a critical time for our communities, as our neighbors experience food insecurity at the highest rate in a century. The pandemic has brought hunger and poverty to the doorsteps of thousands of Oregon families for the first time, and the situation is even worse in communities that have faced disproportionate challenges for generations. Long-standing structural inequities have ensured that the pandemic’s public health and economic impacts fall more heavily on people of color, immigrants and refugees, single parents and caregivers, and our trans and gender non-conforming neighbors — many of whom serve in essential, front-line roles within our healthcare and food systems.”
She continues, “Throughout the pandemic, our network of 21 regional food banks and 1,400 local partners has moved mountains to ensure that nutritious food is available to everyone who needs it. But the economic fallout of COVID-19 has been compounded by devastating wildfires, and significant support is needed to continue to meet these crises head-on. With today’s action, the Emergency Board has made a significant and critical investment in the food security of millions of Oregonians whose lives have been destabilized in one of the most challenging years in recent memory.”
Representatives from Tyson Foods and Smart Foodservice teamed up to provide a donation of protein in November.
Food Bank officials say Federal action on COVID relief is desperately needed to shore up safety net programs that provide vital support for struggling families, from Unemployment Insurance to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. And thousands of our neighbors face homelessness at year’s end if the full state legislature does not convene to extend Oregon’s eviction and foreclosure moratorium. Our communities are facing one of the worst public health and economic crises in generations, and we need bold action from elected leaders at all levels to help ensure we all emerge stronger.
It’s not too late to give back this season and many organizations are currently donating a portion of their sales to the Oregon Food Bank through December. Currently, food donations have been put on pause for Oregon Food Bank’s as well as having to reduce the number of volunteers from about 100 to 10 due to COVID-19.
The Oregon Food Bank has also canceled its food drives right now, but these organizations below are offering another way to help those experiencing food insecurity. For more information on each of the different organizations and to help donate to the Oregon Food Bank click on the links below.
Ashley Mumm, Public Relations Manager, explains that there are also other fundraisers throughout the year to help the Oregon Food Bank, “In addition to those that are on the calendar, there’s a lot of activity going on in the community, which is amazing.”
People also have the option to create a peer-to-peer fundraiser to help combat hunger and rally friends, family, and/or co-workers to help out. This option is open all year long and just $1 helps the Oregon Food Bank distribute three meals in the community.
Over 1 million people will experience food insecurity for the first time this year according to Mumm. This has increased from last year where about 860,000 people were experiencing food insecurity. Despite this increase, Mumm reminds people, “That we’re here, food is available; please get food.”
An additional way to look for opportunities to give back is by using #OregonFoodBank on Instagram that usually has other activities happening around the state from small businesses/individuals. The online app, OregonFoodFinder.org, allows people to search by zip code, days and times of operations, and what each partner offers (groceries/food/meals, etc.).
Giving back can mean more than just donating, Mumm explains, “For those that are safe and feel comfortable, volunteers are always welcome. We have over 400 partners in the metro area that are also potentially welcoming volunteers.”
From the Oregon Food Bank Website: Our mission is to eliminate hunger and its root causes because no one should be hungry.
Portland, OR. Friends of Noise is a Portland-based non-profit that provides young artists with a well-rounded introduction to the music industry. (Wavy Josef, is shown playing an outdoor show above.) With professional workshops in everything from designing fliers and merchandise, to lighting and sound engineering, to networking and performing, the organization invests in its community to better prepare artists for the business side of music. Non-profits have not had an easy year, and this organization has shown that it is resourceful in keeping on track to serve local youth. With ongoing projects heading into 2021, and a long-term goal of opening an art-focused youth center in North East Portland, Friends of Noise is committed to coming out of 2020 stronger than ever.
Many local businesses were forced to halt all activities in March 2020 to slow the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, and Friends of Noise was one of them. The young community that the non-profit serves, however, was highly active in social justice causes as the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum all over the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Andre Middleton, Executive Director of Friends of Noise, delivered amplification equipment and other sound assistance to marches and protests around the city. Andre felt compelled to provide the non-profit’s sound equipment to a noble cause, “I wanted to make sure that the community’s cries for justice and change would be heard.” Friends of Noise continued to be an ally for these social justice events, which also validated the idea that outdoor spaces would become a viable option for their artists.
Members of the community stand in solidarity for a common cause.
The non-profit went on to hold numerous shows in NE Portland parks throughout the summer and even hosted a social-distanced Black Lives Matter rally in Cathedral Park on Labor Day that drew a crowd of 2000. These live music events were welcomed by these neighborhoods and provided much-needed revenue for the artists and showrunners that had relied on concerts in the past. Friends of Noise makes it a point to compensate performers and showrunners, and believes it is incredibly important to show the community of artists that their time and work is valued. By showing the young artists this now by paying them for their work, Andre hopes they will take that sense of value into their futures: “We’re all about teaching and giving kids opportunities to practice what they learn, and then working to get them paid opportunities to develop this as a career. We work to make sure that young people are seen as valued members of our local music ecosystem.”
In 2021, Friends of Noise will be launching live-stream programming as an ongoing way to feature their growing youth artist directory. This programming will be a collaboration with local music venues that have been closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, creating a connection between the artists and the theaters. They have partnered with theaters like Mississippi Studios, the Star Theater, and the Roseland Theater. The shows will also be multi-generational, pairing young artists with older artists, and will eventually incorporate a local dance group as well. The programming will be consistent, and the non-profit hopes this will represent the Portland music scene as a diverse and harmonious entity. This project is set to launch in January, and Friends of Noise hopes it will help sustain the local music industry through these uncertain times.
The band Out of Luck plays an indoor show before the pandemic.
Engagement in the Friends of Noise community has not slowed down with this pandemic. As a non-profit that serves Portland youth, its artists are looking for more ways to connect and be inspired by their peers. Friends of Noise knows that it cannot be a replacement for school, or other social activities that are no longer safe, but hopes that by building a strong community it can provide comradery through work and expression. This new live-stream project will support this ideal harmonious and collaborative music scene. When speaking about the future of the music industry in Portland, Andre is optimistic, “I have every confidence that young people will be pushing the envelope and be as innovative as they always have been. If we can create an ambience of collaboration over competition, this next cohort of musicians are going to be in an even better position in the future.” Friends of Noise is participating in Willamette Weekly’s GiveGuide, and you can also donate or volunteer on its website.
From Friends of Noise: Friends of Noise is a non-profit, educational, all-ages organization. Our mission is to provide safer and productive spaces for all-ages concerts, focused arts education, and leadership opportunities for youth with a focus on providing marginalized youth and youth of color access to performative creative expression. Our long-term goals are to contribute to the development of a region-wide network of young people and adults that are learned and ready to pursue a career in the music industry on stage or backstage and to grow into a youth-centered arts center that resides in a music-focused arts hub in an underserved community within our city.
We seek to create a non-profit, all-ages arts venue that is youth-oriented and youth-driven. We envision a safe, inclusive community meeting place for arts events, with a strong educational and mentorship component. We intend to engage young people in all aspects of event planning and production within this space, in order to encourage real-world skill-building. We believe these skills will serve students well in their future endeavors and help them become cultural leaders and engaged citizens in their communities.
Portland, OR. Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) hosted a Virtual Holiday Celebration on December 6th. The event featured stories of GDB’s canine teams across the country. Through the event, $400,000 was raised for the non-profit. Supporters who missed the celebration can watch it online here. People can continue to donate for the event until December 16th and will be given an opportunity to name a GDB puppy.
Guide Dogs for the Blind celebrated its first virtual holiday celebration.
The Virtual Holiday Celebration was hosted by Liam Mayclem, an Emmy Award-winning radio and TV personality, along with Theresa Stern, GDB Vice President of Outreach, Admissions, and Alumni Services. Chris Benninger, president and CEO of GDB, gave updates on the nonprofit, along with the GDB ambassador dog, Thea. Zach Thibodeaux, a recent Guide Dogs for the Blind graduate, shared his story of receiving his first guide dog, Natura. There were some special appearances of the actor Noah Wyle and some GDB guide dogs, and a video starring canine teams across the U.S. was featured.
The Virtual Holiday Celebration was hosted by Emmy Award-winning radio and TV personality Liam Mayclem and Theresa Stern, GDB Vice President of Outreach, Admissions, and Alumni Services.
The virtual celebration had over 1500 attendees sign-on, and an additional 120 viewers signed on to the Facebook Livestream. Guests joined from all over the States, and from Canada, England, India, and Italy. Donations were given from all around the world.
Behind the scenes of the virtual holiday celebration, with President and CEO of Guide Dogs for the Blind, Chris Benninger.
From Guide Dogs for the Blind:
Guide Dogs for the Blind is a guide dog school that trains highly qualified guide dogs to provide free services in order to empower visually impaired individuals. The organization has been serving people throughout the United States and Canada since 1942.
Guide Dogs for the Blind was the subject of an award-winning 2018 feature-length documentary called Pick of the Litter, which was developed into a television docu-series by the same name that had its debut in late 2019 on the streaming service Disney+.
Portland, OR. Local families are in need of help after a year of unprecedented challenges. Pacific Northwest communities have supported causes like Black Lives Matter, record-breaking fundraising for political parties, and support for small businesses forced to close due to Covid-19. Nonprofits are hoping that they’ll receive much-needed year-end donations this holiday season. (Causes like Children’s Book Bank, pictured above, represent one of many local nonprofits that serve local families).
There are many meaningful actions that donors can take to help local communities in need of shelter, food, basic necessities, or toys for Christmas morning. On PortlandSocietyPage.com we have a page with a list of nonprofits, here’s a link to our partner’s page. Below is also a list of diverse nonprofits that may inspire those who can afford to offer time and resources to help these imperative causes thrive into the new year.
Volunteers at Blanchet House are encouraged to apply and follow strict Covid guidelines to ensure the safety of the community.
Blanchet House provides food, shelter, and aid to any in need with mutual respect and compassion. You can sign up to volunteer and learn more about donations on the non-profit’s website. Blanchet House is also participating in Willamette Weekly’s Give Guide and are trying to raise 35,000 dollars by December 31st.
The Christmas Family Adoption Foundation makes it possible to support an entire family in need during the holiday season. The PNW families are nominated to receive Christmas gifts from a wishlist. You can contribute in multiple ways on the foundation’s website so if you are unable to adopt a family, you can still support this worthy cause.
Oregon Food Bank is another excellent way to make sure those in need have a warm meal this winter. The organization has extended it’s Giving Tuesday fundraiser, and are also participating in Willamette Weekly’s Give Guide. With 1,400 food pantries all over Oregon and SW Washington, and you can sign up to volunteer and help keep the business thriving on it’s website.
Children’s Book Bank is a wonderful organization to give to around the holidays. This non-profit knows how important books are in children’s lives and has donated over 650,000 books to children in the Portland area. Book donations are being accepted along with monetary contributions, and you can volunteer with Children’s Book Bank virtually.
Store To Door makes sure that seniors and those with disabilities receive the groceries that they need through volunteer grocery shopping and delivery. This busy non-profit is always in need of volunteers and have many different ways that you can contribute. Store To Door has been improving the quality of lives of those in need since 1989.
Rose Haven works to ensure the safety of women, children, and marginalized genders that are experiencing homelessness, poverty, and other traumas. This organization provides a safe and stable community for these individuals, along with health resources and emotional support. Rose Haven’s volunteer positions focus on to-go meals, door-to-door services, and Covid-19 support currently, and there are many ways to donate to this worthy cause on the non-profit’s website.
Sunshine Division is another organization that will be in full swing ensuring that Pacific Northwest families get everything they need this winter. Food donations are always appreciated by this organization (with new Covid restrictions in place), and the non-profit hopes to continue to help families in the Portland area through monetary contributions this holiday season. Sunshine Division’s annual Winter Wonderland event runs from November 27th through January 2nd, and you can enjoy the drive-through light show from the safety of your car.
Sunshine Division organizes this Covid-safe family activity to support a great cause.
West Linn Food Pantry provides West Linn and Lake Oswego families with emergency food donations. They accept curbside food donations every Thursday between 1PM and 6PM at the non-profit’s West Linn location.
Hands-On Greater Portland is an excellent resource for finding out how you can volunteer and get involved this holiday season. This non-profit works to connect volunteers with projects and will help you find the best way to utilize your resources to help our local communities thrive. The site keeps an updated project calendar as well, to keep you updated on when your help is needed.
Portland, OR. Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon (FCCO) has launched its annual Season’s Feedings Holiday Cat Food Drive. The food gathered during the drive goes to feral cat caregivers to help feed their feral cats and organizers say the need this year is greater than ever.
5,049 pounds of food were donated during the Season’s Feedings Cat Food Drive in 2019
This year the following local businesses are collecting between November 1st and December 31st. Supporters can also purchase food online to be shipped directly to FCCO.
Happy Tails – Milwaukie: 4370 SE King Rd, Ste. 250-260, Milwaukie. Offering 20% off all food purchased for donation!
ROAR: Due to Covid-19, ROAR has shifted to online-only, but is accepting food donations at their local pick-up site just off Alberta Street (request address) and cash donations toward food online.
*Sellwood Pet Supply: 8334 SE 17th Ave, Portland. *They are collecting cash donations toward food.
As a part of the Season’s Feedings cat food drive, the FCCO is offering free cat food through December and January to caregivers of feral cats that bring cats in to get spayed or neutered. FCCO offers a program to safely spay and neuter stray, feral, and barn cats at no cost or for a suggested donation of $40, and at a small price for pet cats. At the moment because of the Covid-19 pandemic, services are unavailable for pet cats for safety reasons, and appointments must be made to get cats spayed and neutered. All surgeries are done by licensed veterinarians at the FCCO’s South Portland clinic. Along with offering to spay and neuter cats, the organization also offers vaccinations, flea and ear mite treatment, and an eat-tip. FCCO also has a program called Kitten Caboose that works on finding kittens brought in homes to be adopted into.
Just a fraction of the food generously donated by Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon’s community.
This year the organization celebrated 25 years since its inception in 1995, and has spayed and neutered over 100,000 cats since then. Through the Kitten Caboose program, more than 1000 kittens have found homes.
“Every cat deserves a little holiday gift this year, especially the outdoor feral and stray cats lucky enough to have someone looking after them. Many local businesses are participating in collecting food and generous individuals are purchasing food and donating directly to us.”
Portland, OR. The American Red Cross tests every blood donation for a variety of infections. All blood, platelet, and plasma donations are tested for COVID-19 antibodies. Will the antibody test become an incentive for people to give blood? The Red Cross hopes so. The organization needs donations, particularly convalescent plasma from COVID-19 Survivors.
The American Red Cross is currently urging eligible COVID-19 survivors to give convalescent plasma to help patients battling the virus and can have access to all potentially lifesaving treatments. Convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation, collected from individuals who recovered from COVID-19, that contains antibodies.
Communications Director, April Phillips, explains why convalescent plasma is needed. “We know right now we are seeing a surge of COVID-19 cases across the country and as the number of COVID-19 cases increases, so does the need for convalescent plasma. In fact, our distributions of convalescent plasma to hospitals had increased 250% in November compared to September, and that number continues to rise.”
According to Phillips, if someone is positive for COVID-19 antibodies, this means that they’ve had been exposed to the virus at some point and their body has built up antibodies to help them fight the virus. This doesn’t confirm any sort of immunity, but the plasma from their blood could potentially be helpful to patients who are currently fighting the virus.
On May 29, 2020, in Rockville, Maryland, a Red Cross phlebotomist April Hall works with a donor of convalescent plasma Alisha Wolf. Wolf discovered she was Covid-19 positive while in the hospital to deliver her baby (everyone is now healthy). Photo by Dennis Drenner/American Red Cross
The American Red Cross is testing all blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies and is collecting convalescent plasma at more than 170 locations throughout the country. COVID-19 survivors who donate their plasma have the ability to help up to four patients recover from the virus.
Currently, the American Red Cross is experiencing a shortage of type AB and B convalescent plasma and is asking people who know that they have COVID-19 antibodies to sign up, to donate convalescent plasma, or donate whole blood. Type AB plasma is the only universal plasma type and can be given to patients of any blood type. Individuals interested in donating convalescent plasma can do so by clicking this link.
There are also new safety precautions in place when donating blood. People are required to wear a fabric covering (mask), a temperature check is required and there will be hand sanitizing stations set up throughout the whole time at a blood drive.
Eligible convalescent plasma donors can give with the Red Cross every seven days for up to three months. To be eligible to give convalescent plasma an individual must be:
In good health and generally feel well.
Have a prior, verified diagnosis of COVID-19, but are now symptom-free and fully recovered from COVID-19 and at least 14 days from the last date of symptoms.
On April 24, 2020, in Baltimore, Maryland, a Red Cross phlebotomist collects lifesaving blood products during the COVID-19 outbreak while working a shift at the Mount Hope Blood Donation Center. Photo by Dennis Drenner/American Red Cross
Individuals must meet all regular blood donation requirements plus some additional criteria. Individuals who have fully recovered from COVID-19 and would like to help should first complete a Donor Request form online. If they are eligible to give, an American Red Cross representative will contact them to schedule a donation appointment at a Red Cross or another blood collection organization facility.
Donating convalescent plasma is different from a whole blood donation; the plasma is donated using an apheresis process where blood is drawn from one arm and sent through a high-tech machine that collects the plasma and then safely and comfortably returns red cells and platelets back to the person. This process is longer than donating whole blood and does take more time.
Phillips’ aunt this past summer received convalescent plasma while hospitalized for COVID-19 and encourages others to donate plasma. “You just don’t know, what your donation could mean to the family and to the person who’s been battling coronavirus, it’s a little bit of time, but it could make a world of difference for a patient.”
On April 22, 2020, in Rockville, Maryland, a Red Cross blood donor rolls up a sleeve to give blood during the COVID-19 outbreak at the Rockville Donation Center in Maryland. Photo by Dennis Drenner/American Red Cross
Thousands of American Red Cross drives have been canceled as community organizations and businesses are restricting access to many locations. The need for blood is constant; individuals who don’t have COVID-19 but would like to still help can do so by donating their blood or host a drive to help ensure a stable blood supply during the pandemic.
More research is needed before definite conclusions can be drawn; however, the American Red Cross is aware of several studies and articles that found a correlation between blood type and susceptibility to COVID-19. There is some evidence that shows lower COVID-19 infection rates for those with blood type O.
From the American Red Cross website: The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
Portland, OR. For the first time, visitors who attend ZooLights will be able to enjoy a light display of 1.5 million bright lights, animated animals, and immersive tunnels of lights from their car. This experience has been designed to provide a safe way for the community to continue this holiday tradition. The Oregon Zoo is known for the ZooLights display, but the annual walk-through is suspended along with daytime operations from Nov. 18 to Dec. 2, due to a two-week freeze put in place by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19.
Visitors drive through ZooLights from earlier this year in a test run-through.
The two-week freeze has taken effect in Oregon, but the state’s most populous county will see those restrictions for even longer. Gov. Brown issued the freeze for at least four weeks in Multnomah County.
Oregon Zoo’s ZooLights runs from Nov. 22nd, till Jan. 10th, with the exception of Dec. 25th. Tickets are available online and must be purchased in advance. Here’s a video about the drive-through ZooLights experience:
“Everything’s been a little different in 2020, and ZooLights is no exception,” explains zoo events manager Nikki Simmons. “Like most of this community, our biggest concern right now is protecting everyone’s health and safety. We’re just thankful we could come up with a good way for the community to enjoy this holiday tradition.”
A child and adult enjoy some of the ZooLights from a test run-through earlier this fall.
How it will work; visitors can purchase one ticket per vehicle and join a queue to check-in curbside then proceed to the drive-through entrance. The route will go through the widest paths of the zoo which includes some behind-the-scene areas around the outside of Elephant Lands taking approximately 30-40 minutes.
A map of the drive-through ZooLights.
To help ensure a safe experience for all, the following measures will be in place during this year’s ZooLights:
Timed ticketing/limited attendance: All guests, including members, must reserve their ZooLights tickets in advance via the zoo website. Tickets are only available up to one week in advance of the visit date.
Masks/face coverings: Drive-through guests do not need to wear masks while enjoying the lights from inside their vehicle. Masks are required, however, during check-in and other interactions with ZooLights staff.
From the Oregon Zoo website: The Oregon Zoo inspires the community to respect animals and take action on behalf of the natural world. We do this by creating engaging experiences and advancing the highest level of animal welfare, environmental literacy, and conservation science.
The Willamette Fall Trust is working to create a place where people can fully experience the beauty of the continents’ second most powerful waterfall, Willamette Falls, up close. The group plans to achieve this by creating a Riverwalk, which will give the public access to the intricacies of the river and waterfall. A few of the plans are to add a series of winding promenades and lofting pathways along the Willamette River to give people a great experience with the river and an intimate view of the Falls. The goal is to add an overlook at the precipice of the Falls and connect the Falls to downtown Oregon City. Designs for phase one of the Riverwalk are in the final stages and they are getting ready to start construction.
Willamette Falls Trust wants to make the Riverwalk into a place to tell stories of the communities that intersect at the Falls and the histories of the place.
Willamette Falls Trust has shared renderings of plans for what the future Riverwalk will look like.
Willamette Falls Trust is not currently adding volunteers because of pandemic guidelines, but the nonprofit hopes to soon. You can sign up here to stay updated on volunteer possibilities in the future.
The current plans for the Willamette Falls Riverwalk include repurposing one of the former mill buildings into a three-story structure which will provide visitors with an overlook of the falls and Willamette River, restored habitat and gathering spaces as well as the historic and cultural interpretation of the site.
“I was born and raised near Willamette Falls. I remember as a child, when we’d drive by and catch a glimpse of the Falls—and how extraordinary it was. As an adult, I feel that same awe. I will often pull over to the outlook on a sunny day to take in the view. It’s amazing how quickly looking over such beauty calms me and makes me feel at home.
My hope is that the Riverwalk will create that same sense of belonging for others, whether they live here or are just visiting. It’s what made me want to volunteer. Because this project is so much more than constructing buildings and walkways to view the largest waterfall in the Northwest. It is about celebrating people—past and present—who have built their lives around the Falls. It’s about safeguarding and sharing a beautiful landmark and habitat in a meaningful way.
I chose to volunteer because listening to and honoring the many histories and lifeways found at the Falls feels important to me. And I want to be part of bringing people together for the betterment of our community and environment.
My experience volunteering with Willamette Falls Trust has been meaningful in many ways. I immediately felt a kinship with the staff, and I appreciate how welcoming they are. My volunteer work is often behind the scenes, yet I still feel a connection with the community. It’s allowed me to contribute as many hours as I can to a project that protects and restores the beauty and environment of the Falls and creates a space to share our stories for many generations to come.
Being part of reimagining this spectacular place is meaningful beyond words.”
Willamette Falls Trust is the nonprofit organization raising funds and engaging the community to realize the collective vision for a spectacular Riverwalk at the Falls. This vision includes an overlook at the precipice of the Falls, a connection to Oregon City’s downtown, and opportunities to learn more about the significance of Willamette Falls since time immemorial.
As we curate this collective vision for Willamette Falls, we partner closely with the Willamette Falls Legacy Project—the public-sector collaboration that is managing Riverwalk construction—and our other partners, including:
Confederated Tribes and Bands of The Yakama Nation
Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde
Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians
Confederated Tribes of The Umatilla Indian Reservations
Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs
Downtown Oregon City Association
Portland General Electric
Rivers of Life
Travel Oregon/Mt Hood Territory
West Linn Paper
We Love Clean Rivers
Willamette Falls Heritage Foundation
Willamette Falls and Landings Heritage Area Coalition
Portland, OR. For over 30 years, Christmas For Kids has helped with holiday shopping sprees for deserving kids hand-selected by their school counselors. Unfortunately, the annual volunteer event pictured above in 2019, won’t look the same this year. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, volunteers won’t be on hand to help with the shopping. Typically, students work with a Christmas for Kids shopper, and together they check off a Christmas list which usually includes things like needed clothes and coats. Volunteers are vital because they often augment allotted funds to help make wishlists complete.
A young girl, followed by her volunteer shopper, pushes her cart around while looking at plush animals during last year’s event.
Bill Wilson, a board member at Christmas For Kids, explains the decision to modify the event. “It’s kind of heartbreaking with COVID and then so many people losing their jobs or being furloughed or unemployed. The need is even greater this year than it has been in the past and it’s sad that we can’t have the event.”
According to Wilson, the nonprofit doesn’t want to risk spreading COVID-19, and that’s why volunteers must stay home. But organizers hope those generous individuals will make a contribution to the bottom line. Last year, the volunteer shoppers donated $15,000 to help complete shopping lists.
A child is fitted for a coat during last year’s event.
Christmas For Kids helps around 450-500 children each year and since 2004 the organization has helped over 9,800 kids. This year the list of worthy recipients is over 1,000. While volunteers won’t be present this year sponsors like superstore Fred Meyers, are promising to bring in additional staff and people to help on the day of the event. Items to expect this year include packaged clothing for girls and boys such as socks, underwear, fleece blankets, fleece coats, and fleece beanies. These packages will also include mystery merchandise from Columbia Sportswear Company.
Tigard Police attends and hands out teddy bears from the event last year.
Partnering with Fred Meyers has given the organization a substantial discount as well as discounts for items from Columbia. This allows the organization to maximize the amount they can give to the children.
With a larger goal of helping kids this Christmas, according to Wilson, the organization is going to be spending more money than they had anticipated due to the high need this year. To help with Christmas For Kids donations click here.
A combination of donated funds, donated items, and volunteer efforts keep overhead low; 95¢ of every $1.00 donated is spent on the children.
From Christmas For Kids website:
Christmas for Kids is a magical event where local Portland, Oregon Metro area kids are selected by their Title One School counselors, due to extreme need, to join a volunteer shopper to check off a Christmas wishlist. Our focus is to provide basic clothing needs for the child and their immediate siblings.
A combination of donated funds, donated items (coats, books, hygiene items, etc.), vastly reduced prices, and volunteer contributions create a unique situation in our organization where, on average, over 95¢ of every dollar donated is spent on the child on the day of the event.
Portland, OR. Airlie Press provides a creative refuge for poetry lovers and writers throughout Oregon and Washington. Public readings, like the pre-covid event with Jessica Mehta pictured above, feel like a distant memory this fall, but literary works are still being produced by the nonprofit publishing house. Founded in 2007, Airlie Press is run by writers who are determined to amplify the voices of our community and use local resources to give writers a positive publishing experience. The organization also offers an annual national prize. As Covid-19 spikes in a second wave, Airlie is hard at work to publish two new poetry collections by PNW writers in 2021 while keeping up with virtual poetry readings and other online literary events.
A sample of Airlie Press publications offerings.
Like the music industry, poetry benefits from live events. Readings create hype around the work by gathering like-minded creative spirits who share food and laughter and engage with the readers by providing a vocal presentation of their work. The press has been hit hard by the pandemic. Organizers held their 2020 book launch via an online event hosted by Annie Bloom’s Books– a Portland-based independent bookstore. While it was successful, something felt off for some of the artists. Brittney Corrigan, first-year editor of the press, explained, “Not only can you not see the audience, but you can’t hear them. I appreciate that auditory feedback, especially the little sighs or the little finger snaps. It’s really a part of that poetry experience.” It may not feel exactly the same, the publisher is moving ahead with frequent readings and other online gatherings in November, and hope to continue. Airlie Press also has a growing Youtube channel, featuring the authors, as well as poets from around the world.
Before Covid, Airlie Press editors met once a month, in a Salem, Oregon cafe, to touch base and work together on publications and events in progress. The press is highly collaborative, and local winners make a three-year commitment to the press. They are involved firsthand with the publication of their own book, while also reading submitted manuscripts and contributing to other tasks along the way. Now, these monthly meetings take place over Zoom, but members admit to talking daily. Editor and author of Learning to Love the Western Sky, Amelia Diaz Ettinger, misses the in-person gatherings in Salem. “Getting to know each other and being in the same room is missed,” Amelia says as she speaks of the screen-fatigue that comes with online meetings. Not only do the editors miss that human connection, but the poetry community does as well. “Then you have a lot of people that love to go to poetry readings, that are not technologically capable. There is a published poet here in town that has wanted to be a part of Zoom, even to discuss his own poetry, but he is almost 80.”
Despite the challenges, Airlie Press is staying on track for the new year. Brittney Corrigan is heading into her second year with the press, which means her poetry book, Daughters, is heading into production. If there’s one thing these diverse poetry books have in common, it’s that they are all thoughtfully produced. Every aspect of the books is locally sourced. Publishers used local designers for the covers and a small print shop in Portland for printing.
Leaders are excited for 2021’s book production, even if Covid continues to negatively impact our artistic communities. With local bookstore giants struggling and libraries functioning under strict regulation, the road ahead may be bumpy. But may make the 2021 releases even more special. Corrigan recognizes the silver lining in the possibility of another book launch during a pandemic. “There’s a small advantage in that you can potentially get audience members from across the country, or the world, in zoom meetings that wouldn’t be there in person. I did a reading recently and my parents were able to come, and they would never get to hear me read! I am thankful for the technology; this would be a lot worse without it.”
From Airlie Press:
Airlie Press is a nonprofit publisher run by writers, dedicated to cultivating and sustaining fine contemporary poetry and to promoting poets from the Pacific Northwest.
Our process involves the submission of a full-length manuscript of poetry during an annual open submission period and an interview for our finalists with current press members. Of the submissions we receive, we evaluate manuscripts thoroughly and select the promising work by authors willing to collaborate with our consensus-based group. As a press, we commit to participate in the ongoing conversation and practice regarding inclusion and equity. To this end, we encourage submissions from underrepresented voices and poets from marginalized communities.
Airlie Press produces one or two full-length volumes a year. All funds earned through book sales, subscription orders, and contributions are returned to Airlie Press for the creation of new books of poetry.
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