‘This keeps us going’

New gifts help FISH food banks

Students filed out of the bus carrying not backpacks and books but boxes and boxes of food.

It was time to fill up the FISH food bank shelves again.

A Hood River County School District 40-seater came loaded with 23 students and dozens of boxes of canned goods and other food items.

The student government leaders from Hood River Valley High School spent the next 30 minutes unloading the food, fire brigade style, across the sidewalk, in the door of Concordia Lutheran Church, down the stairs, and into a basement room for storage and sorting. The food is just part of what students gathered in December during their annual food bank collection drive.

And it arrived not a moment too soon.

“It’s big help. It really it is,” said Lorinda Hoffman, coordinator of the Hood River FISH site.

“We were down as low as ever been until this started coming in,” she said, speaking for all four FISH sites: Hood River, Odell, Parkdale and Cascade Locks.

“It was bare shelves,” Hoffman said. “This keeps us going.”

Using the bus to bring the food was a first. Normally a district truck is used, but it was disabled.

The rigorous task of hoisting the heavy boxes out of the bus seats (see photo, page A2) fell to Irene Ramirez, Zoe Shepard, Stephanie Espy and Murphy Jackson.

Hoffman said that the community at large did some heavy lifting — of their wallets — in the past two months, with food and cash donations to FISH.

“We had a really big November. It just started really picking up in November, which was good because there wasn’t that much to buy through Oregon Food Bank,” the bulk-buying cooperative that is the source of most of the FISH provisions. “There just wasn’t that much offered. This was great to see.”

The 2012 food drive ended officially on Friday, and reached a total of 117,000 cans, though cash and checks are accepted until the second week of January for the purpose of the inter-class competition that is such a strong tradition at HRVHS.

This year the students also raised a record $20,000 in monetary donations, all to help FISH buy more food.

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As volunteers Clark Terry and Tony Meierbachtol stacked the boxes and bags in the storage room on Friday, the students conveyed the goods with the help of an impromptu rendition of “Deck the Halls,” in the hallway.

Their singing was in the spirit of the HRVHS food drive this year.

Jack Patterson, ASB president, said, “It was a good year. There was more enthusiasm this year.

“Last year we were more event-focused; this year we just went around and sort of begged,” Patterson said. “We asked people directly to help, and I think that worked better.”

Also helping deliver the food Thursday were students Lucia Ortiz, Jerry Murillo, Parker Irusta, Emily Zeigner, Denali Emmons, Kaylee Colt, Celeste Martinez, Noah Noteboom, Ty Bofferding, Lulu Rodriguez, Frieda Mata, Jack Patterson, Max Lynn, Jon Foster, Austin Spezia-Schwiff, Olivia Brink, Sam Graham, Maddy Collins, Taylor Simonds and Jade James.

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