Young and old serve at FISH for MLK Day

Volunteers Tonia Sanchez, left, and Cindy Allen, right, sort food at Hood River FISH, with help from site coordinator Lorinda Hoffman.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea.
Volunteers Tonia Sanchez, left, and Cindy Allen, right, sort food at Hood River FISH, with help from site coordinator Lorinda Hoffman.

With Martin Luther King’s legacy in mind, a diverse group of community members spent part of Monday afternoon in service at a place that definitely can use volunteer help: FISH food bank.

“People from the community are packing bags for people coming through the food bank and helping distribute the food to people and pack it downstairs,” said HRVHS sophomore Charley Boonstra. “There’s food from high school and from the community (food drives) that the trucks brought in and we helped move it downstairs. Today is MLK Day and we wanted to give back and we kind of spread the word through congregations.”

“It is always great to have people come in to help, and they have been a big help today,” said Billie Stevens, FISH volunteer coordinator.

Monday’s MLK Day work crew included volunteers from the Riverside Community Church, Friends (The Dalles) and Unitarian Universalist congregations and students from the high school cultural and advocacy group MeCHA and other adults from the community.

“The work I do is here sit down; however I can help. Hold on with both hands is what I do!” said Norm Vincent of Hood River, who is on disability but regularly comes to help sort and distribute food.

“I’m here because it’s rewarding to help other people and it’s a good way to meet new people and it’s just fun overall,” Boonstra said, as she worked with HRVHS freshman Lucy Fine to put labels on boxes of commercial jams that had been donated.

Said Fine, “It’s really fun and it’s really good people are going home with food today.”

Much of the food came from the prepared food bags and cases donated by Safeway and Rosauers, who both delivered more than 1,000 individual shopper-purchased donations in December and January.

“Thanks to them we got all this food downstairs and sorted,” said Lucinda Hoffman, the Hood River food bank coordinator, pointing to tables laden with canned goods, pasta, peanut butter and a smorgasbord of staples and extras, ranging from baby food to laundry items, donated by the community in the holiday food drives.

“This is about as full as we’ve been,” Hoffman said. An outpouring of donations came in a few weeks ago after publicity about food bank shelves starting to go bare. “People saw the need and they responded,” Hoffman said. “Some people gave three times as much they normally would.”

“This is great, but we’ll be talking about a big need again in the summer, probably,” Hoffman said.

In January the food bank saw “a small uptick,” in the number of registered clients, Hoffman said, with 25 added in the past month, compared to the monthly average of 12 or so new clients. (Some clients opt out each month, too.) Normally, the food banks in Hood River, Odell, Parkdale and Cascade Locks serve a total of about 400 households.

All told, FISH has served nearly 4,000 people in the past year — some just once, some repeat customers — according to Stevens.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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