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A thousand hungry people are now receiving food at Pioneer Park in Corvallis courtesy of the award-winning Mary’s River Gleaners Association. In fact, MRG has more than doubled the number of people it has helped over the past five years, while continuing to operate out of the same tiny buildings.

On a recent trip I found volunteers unloading food for distribution for the 21st year in a row. “Members of the association are low income, minority, homeless, disabled, veteran, and elderly,” said Cookie Johnson, Program Coordinator. “We see about 200 people joining each year.” The volunteers of MRG are also often program recipients, making this a self-help effort, with each member working according to their ability.

MRG saved 225,000 pounds of food last year that would otherwise have gone to waste. With improved storage facilities, they will be able to do even more. “We need safer, larger storage,” said Johnson. “In the 10 years I’ve been involved, we’ve had at least two cases of vandalism and attempted theft each year.” MRG has received grants, membership fees, and donations, but has yet to find money for storage upgrades. This has prompted the opening of the Mary’s River Gleaners GoFundMe fundraiser.

According to Johnson, $2,000 would provide enough money to add 200 square feet of storage space. If successful, MRG plans to add a  steel shipping container next to their building. If the fundraiser surpasses that goal, then repairs could be made to the main building, and worn-out refrigeration equipment could be replaced.

 For more information or to donate, visit the Mary’s River Gleaners Facebook page or the Mary’s River Gleaners GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/657merxz.

by Rachel Henevoy

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