A traditional meal will be served to-go on Thanksgiving Day.
Portland Rescue Mission started in 1949. Over 70 years later, it’s still known for compassionate care to homeless men, women, and children. The nonprofit has 4 different locations and also provides long-term recovery care.
US Bank Corp volunteers assemble snack bags at Union Gospel Mission of Portland
Other Thanksgiving Volunteer Opportunities:
Blanchet House does not serve meals on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day so that its shelter residents who help to prepare and serve meals can enjoy a day of rest. The nonprofit has volunteer opportunities that you can do from home on Thanksgiving. See below.
From Blanchet House:
You can volunteer from home by doing one of the following meaningful activities.
Make Sack Lunches
Prepare 10-100 sack lunches and drop them off at Blanchet House. Review our Sack Lunch How-To for the details.
Donations can be dropped off Mon-Sat*, at 310 NW Glisan St. from 8 – 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 – 4 p.m. *We are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Pull up to our entrance, knock on the door to get our attention, and a staff member will retrieve your donation from the car. If you’d like a donation receipt, we can provide one. You can also call us at 503-241-4340 or email [email protected].
If you would like to volunteer on-site at Blanchet House on a day that is not a holiday sign up here. Blanchet House is open Mon-Sat, except for New Years Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. We are open all other holidays.
Portland, OR. This year the Union Gospel Mission (UGM) will move its annual event – Operation Overcoat – “from one big downtown event, to distributing winter gear and meals all over the city in partnership with other non-profits and local churches,” according to Communications Manager Courtney Dodds.
Family receiving a meal together at Operation Overcoat
As new restrictions and safety challenges due to COVID-19 mean no large crowds this year, UGM’s team brainstormed a way to reinvent Operation Overcoat to get vital supplies to those in need. In several city-wide mini functions beginning Saturday, September 19th, the organization will be partnering with local churches, schools, and workplaces to gather and deliver backpacks filled with shoes, coats, pants, and other items.
This year UGM will reinvent Operation Overcoat to allow for safety measures against COVID-19
“In other words, Operation Overcoat is going mobile,” explained Courtney. “Winter weather can be dangerous and even life-threatening for our neighbors who are houseless and living outside. Due to the pandemic, more people than ever are financially on the edge and sadly it is projected that even more people will fall into homelessness.”
“Receiving vital life essentials is often the first step to building a relationship and helping someone find a path off the streets. Operation Overcoat not only provides for basic needs but is a point of personal connection.”
This year’s unique conditions pose greater challenges for those experiencing homelessness than previous years
For over 20 years, the downtown-situated block party drew nearly a thousand attendees with live music, free food, and festivities as volunteers distributed thousands of donated clothing items to neighbors experiencing homelessness or need in the community.
Courtney notes that the event “will look different this year, but our commitment to coming alongside those in need remains the same.”
Here are some ways you or your local organization can get involved this year:
Organize a donation drive at your church, workplace or school. Our most needed items include pants, new undergarments, sleeping bags, boots, and coats. Drop your items off at Union Gospel Mission at 3 NW Third Avenue.
Support Operation Overcoat financially. It costs about $23.53 to serve each person through Operation Overcoat. Consider a special financial gift for Operation Overcoat. You can give online at ugmportland.org/donate
Your Gift of $23.53 provides an Operation Overcoat guest with goods and services that would cost them over $200 in a retail environment.
From the website:
FEEDING THE HUNGRY, RESTORING THE ADDICT AND LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR. SINCE 1927.
Union Gospel Mission was founded in 1927, when 40 area churches came together seeking to minister to the homeless and hurting on the streets of Portland. In 1937, Union Gospel Mission purchased a building at 15 NW Third Ave.
Portland, OR. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Union Gospel Mission (UGM) of Portland has successfully maintained the health of current residents while continuing to provide portable meal containers to the community safely via the front door.
The Union Gospel Mission set up a handwashing station outside its building
“We shut the inside services down and did safety protocols to keep all of the men inside COVID-free. And praise God, we haven’t had any infections inside,” reported Bill Russell, who has overseen operations of Portland’s UGM and Lifechange – an affiliated service – for over 30 years. The inside game room and evening services at the 3rd-Avenue location are typically staffed by the 30-50 men undergoing residential recovery from trauma or substance abuse.
Adapting services to meet health regulations still comes at a cost for UGM’s bottom line: connection. “It thins out what we do. Our whole philosophy of the program is to care for people in order to connect with people and coach them.” Russell explained. “It’s been harder to build trust with just the food program, to have the conversations and relational building that’s necessary to build trust…The very concept of wanting to get people to connect is really challenged when you have to maintain six feet of distance and wear a mask.”
Establishing this trust organically has always been a priority for UGM’s volunteer “Search and Rescue” team, who normally go out in the community to get to know residents at local camps like “Right 2 Dream”. A second team provides rides to medical and housing appointments the following day if they discover a need.
UGM’s Search & Rescue team distributes meals safely with social distancing
Russell noted, “A year ago we were moving one person a week out of homelessness into some kind of either program or shelter that led into housing, so there was a pretty good flow. This year, COVID has caused a real lockup on the available places to go. We’ve placed more women with kids out of camps, but single adults have been fairly stuck in place with COVID… It’s really been a game-changer.”
Russell predicts that the economic downturn will generate more need for affordable housing, adding, “We need many more allies.” Those interested can look online for volunteer opportunities or sign up to give monthly.
On June 9th, UGM reopened its thrift store for retail shopping and are accepting donations. Face coverings and social distancing are required to ensure the safety of guests and volunteers, and hand sanitizer is provided throughout the store. UGM has requested that clothing donations be sealed in plastic bags upon arrival.
From the Union Gospel Mission’s website:
FEEDING THE HUNGRY, RESTORING THE ADDICT AND LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR. SINCE 1927.
Union Gospel Mission provides more than 250,000 meals a year to the homeless and people in need. In addition to meals, the Mission provides food boxes, a day room with coffee and snacks, clothing, hygiene items, referral services and emergency cold weather shelter to the homeless.
NONPROFIT BENEFIT TICKET GIVEAWAYS!
Sign up for our free weekly highlights for the chance to win two tickets terrific nonprofit events! If you "like" us on facebook, or sign up for our weekly news highlights, you'll be entered to win! Sign up today!
Look for another ticket giveaway soon! Are you a nonprofit looking to bolster your publicity with facebook and tweets? Email us and we'll run a contest with tickets to your event! [email protected]