The Gift of Giving

soup-kitchen-1024x682Volunteering has become the second most popular form of holiday charity after donating, yet according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, volunteering has fallen 0.4% in the United States since 2014. Seemingly a small number, this results in a loss of 1,275,600 helpful bodies.

With falling statistics, now more than ever we see a critical need for volunteers—especially considering that Oregon has the nation’s highest rate of child food insecurity, 29% according to the Community Services Consortium.

Lucky for us, Corvallis has volunteer opportunities sprinkled heavily throughout the city. As Thanksgiving approaches, organizations such as Stone Soup, the Linn Benton Food Share, Jackson Street Youth Services, and more are putting together dinners and food baskets for local low-income individuals and families. Here’s the rundown:

Stone Soup, a free, all-inclusive meal-assistance program, is preparing for their annual Thanksgiving dinner, which serves an average of 125 to 150 people each year. Stone Soup is always in need of volunteers, and will need to fill about 50 slots for the dinner itself. The program welcomes long- and short-term volunteers, as well as volunteering families. According to Director Susan Dunham, their main cook for the Thanksgiving dinner has spent 10 years volunteering for the event. Stone Soup also accepts financial donations, along with material donations of boxed, canned, and frozen food and produce.

To get involved, email stonesouphelp@gmail.com.

The Linn Benton Food Share is organizing another holiday food drive this season, and volunteers have already begun gathering food. Participants are now sorting and assembling holiday baskets to be distributed to families.

There were 1,400 baskets distributed last year, according to Susan James, volunteer and gleaning coordinator. As the Linn Benton Food Share is solely volunteer-based there is always a great need for extra help, especially considering the average 5.3 million pounds of food that’s allocated annually.

On top of the holiday food drive, on the last Thursday of every month
the Linn Benton Food Share has an open house that gives out bulk and canned food to low-income households across the county. This month’s open house will be held today, Thursday, Nov. 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Food Share warehouse in Tangent, 33747 Looney Lane.

Basket distribution will start
Nov. 21 and volunteer opportunities last through Nov. 23. All ages are welcome to volunteer—parents must accompany children 12 and under. To sign up for the open house or holiday food drive, contact Susan James at sjames@communityservices.us or call 541-758-2645.

Jackson Street Youth Services needs ingredients for their Thanksgiving dinner. Their licensing requires that all food they use is store-bought or made in a certified kitchen. Volunteer coordinator Aaron Kratzer explained, “What is useful for us is when people are able to donate the ingredients for parts of the meal. We’ve even had people donate a recipe and all the needed ingredients [like a pie with all the necessary parts, ready to make].”

For more information on how to help, contact Aaron Kratzer at aaron.kratzer@jacksonstreet.org or call 541-360-0868.

While on the topic of donations, the Vina Moses Center is accepting applications for children’s toys and Christmas food baskets, while CARDV, the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence, will be accepting gift donations through Friday, Dec. 9.

For more information about Vina Moses Center’s holiday donations. contact Christine Duffney at 541-753-1420. For more information on CARDV gift donations, contact Jennifer Morris at jennifer.morris@cardv.org or call 541-758-0219, ext. 302

Last on the list is the 13th annual Corvallis Turkey Trot on Thursday, Nov. 24, a fundraiser for the Parks & Recreation Family Assistance Fund. The proceeds from this event provide low-income families access to Corvallis Parks & Rec programs.

Registration is $30 and the run begins at the Osborn Aquatic Center. For more information, email michael.fischer@corvallisoregon.gov  or call 541-766-7946.

With times the way they are, spreading holiday warmth and support is important, so please, go volunteer, go donate.

By Jamie Asunsolo

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