Kindness is King in the Valley

Erik Rhoads

I walk to work every day. Sometimes those walks are relatively boring, usually they are soggy, and on some occasions, I am reminded of how wonderful Corvallis and its people are. 

Recently, when walking through my neighborhood west of downtown, I saw a couple of houses with small plastic containers full of recyclable glass. It was on the curb, ready to be picked up and recycled for money. I assume these people left it out for those who needed the money; why else would it be sitting so far away from their house and be out on a consistent basis? 

Another instance of kindness happened a little over a month ago.

If you went to the Corvallis farmer’s market on Veteran’s Day weekend and walked down to the very end, you may have seen a man in a black sweatshirt sitting next to a large cardboard box that said, “Take a Coat or Leave a Coat.” 

After only two and a half hours sitting in the late morning drizzle, the box was almost overflowing with down coats, rain jackets, and a slew of other warm and dry options. 

When asked what made him decide to put the box out, Erik Rhoads said that he “saw a lot of people who looked really cold, and lots of people have extra warm coats they may want to give away to those who need it.”

Rhoads said he was taking the leftover coats to homeless shelters and other places where people could easily access them. 

Corvallisites experience these small acts every day, so we asked people in Corvallis what kindnesses they witnessed. Here are some of the responses that we received.

Local Organizations
Multiple people noted the great work that local philanthropic organizations do on a daily basis. Some groups are nationwide, others small and local, but each one is actively making Corvallis a more livable, and kind, place.

Rachell Hoffman, the business manager for Odd Fellows, noted that they make money from renting their ballroom and lodge, which they then donate every month to individuals and non-profits. “Just about every non-profit in the community has benefited from the Odd Fellows,” she said.

Hoffman said in the past few months, Odd Fellows helped a family pay for their mom’s cremation, bought a washer and dryer for the Jackson Street Youth Shelter, and one member takes homeless women to the laundromat and pays for them to wash their clothes.

Another local organization, the Vina Moses Center, takes donations and gives them freely to those in need. They have multiple programs including ones for back to school, for emergency services, and for the holidays.

Oregon State University also participates in giving back around the holidays, specifically through the Joy Drive, hosted by the Childcare and Family Resources office. Each year, OSU departments and staff help student parents provide gifts for their children.

The Red Hot Stitchers, another group, meets monthly to knit scarves, gloves, and other items for various charities in need. Their most recent charity was the Special Olympics snowshoe team.

But if there is one focus that was highlighted in all of the responses, it was how much Corvallis people and groups care about animals and wild lands. Multiple people noted Senior Dog Rescue in Philomath, the Heartland Humane Society, and also Street Dawgs and Cats Care Fair, organized by Occupy Corvallis’ Stephanie Hampton. The fair is staffed by OSU students and provides free pet services for the homeless.

Many others thanked Greenbelt Land Trust and Chintimini Wildlife Rehab for their great work keeping lands available for wildlife, and rehabilitating wildlife who have been negatively affected by suburban sprawl. Also thanked was the Corvallis Environmental Center for its literal tons of produce from their SAGE garden to those in need.

Others mentioned the charitable events the local Elks Lodge hosts, the innumerable kindnesses found on the Corvallis Families Gift Economy and the Corvallis Healthy Moms on a Budget Facebook pages, the food given to those in need by the Linn Benton Food Share, and the work done by the Benton Habitat for Humanity.

Businesses and Faith-Based Charities
Local resident, Kathryn Myers noted that the Little Lunch Box downtown lets customers pay for others’ meals. “The owner also always offers chicken noodle soup to the homeless or food insecure as well as free coffee that is donated by Pastega for that purpose,” she said.

Also, the Johnson’s Dental Clinic hosts multiple dentists from the area to serve youth at the Boys & Girls Club three days per week. They are helped by the Benton County Health Department.

Multiple other offices and departments throughout Corvallis also host drives to gather goods and products for those in need. Some include Windermere Real Estate’s Share the Warmth campaign to gather blankets and coats and Fiserv’s work with the Linn Benton Food Share to gather non-perishables each year.

Multiple faith communities also support Corvallis through initiatives like the We Care project, a consortium of faith communities dedicated to charity work, Love Inc., a group that organizes volunteer opportunities or gap ministries, and the In Stitches group at First Presbyterian Church, who donate completed items to those in need as well.

Many of these organizations are always looking for volunteers and donations. Go online to search their names and “Corvallis” to find them.

By Kristen Edge