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Traditions face challenges as pandemic enters holiday season posted on 11/01/2020

Community efforts to help those in need during the holiday season have had to adjust due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, resulting in changes to how they are done or, in the case of the annual Hoodland Community Thanksgiving Dinner, being cancelled altogether.

Mark Grove, who has been involved in the dinner for 15 years, noted it has happened for nearly 30 years and he has never heard of it being cancelled before. It is held at Camp Arrah Wanna and serves approximately 300 people, but the camp is shut down, making the decision less challenging.

“It was disheartening, but easy to make,” Grove said. “Every angle we looked at it, it just seemed like a bad idea to do it.”

Grove noted that the dinner doesn’t just offer food, but fellowship for those who participate, while adding that many of the people served come from a population that has a high vulnerability to COVID-19.

He added that while they are not doing the dinner this year, organizers are grateful to the community for all their continued support.

“Thank you for everything that everyone has provided all these years,” Grove said.

For Thanksgiving, Mountain community members who need a full Thanksgiving dinner meal box, from appetizers to dessert, can reach out to the Sandy Action Community Center at sandyactioncenter.com or 503-668-4746. Suburban Auto Group in Sandy has teamed up with the center and the Estacada Area Food Bank to help fund the boxes, including matching donations up to $5,000 through Monday, Nov. 9 via a Go Fund Me effort. For more information, visit www.suburbanautogroup.com.

Erinn Sowle, President of Suburban Auto Group, told The Mountain Times in late October that they had almost already surpassed the goal.

“I’m really thrilled at the response,” she said.

And efforts are already underway to continue the annual Christmas Basket program, offering a food basket and a gift for children ages 18 and under to those in need within the Welches Schools boundaries. The program started taking sign-ups last month, with forms available at various local businesses, including Smoke on the Mountain, the Hoodland branch of the Clackamas County Bank, Mt. Hood Cannabis, the Welches Liquor Store, Charlie’s Mountain View, Coffee House 26 and Welches Mountain Building Supply.

Applications for the program are due by 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4.

In a typical year, people would go and pick up boxes and gifts, but as organizer Carol Norgard explained, this year’s program will include deliveries on Friday, Dec. 18 or Saturday, Dec. 19 as the only option. An adult with an ID must be present for the delivery, while non-deliverable boxes will be given to local food pantries.

Norgard said she expected numbers to increase due to the challenges people are facing. In recent years, the program has helped up to 100 local families, but organizers are anticipating up to 120 this year.

Community members can also help the program by giving gifts at giving trees at various local businesses, including Smoke on the Mountain, Clackamas County Bank, Mt. Hood Cannabis, Charie’s Mountain View, Coffee House 26 and Welches Mountain Building Supply. Norgard added that they will need more volunteers to help with the deliveries, which will be done by a pair of volunteers. Delivery volunteers should be able to lift up to 60 pounds and know their way around the Mountain community.

Norgard added that putting everything together will be a longer endeavor this year, as they will be limited by the number of people who can sort through food and gifts at the Welches Lions Club building.

“We can’t have too many people in the building at once while we’re sorting,” she said.

The Lions Club has also shifted gears to support the program with their annual Toy Drive Dinner, which will be take-out only, on Saturday, Nov. 5.

Meanwhile, the Mountain’s community outreach program, Neighborhood Missions, just marked the two-year anniversary of holding a free market once a month.

Program facilitator Steve Carlson noted the market, which is open from 9-10 a.m. at the Hoodland Senior Center (65000 E. Hwy. 26 in Welches), will continue as normal through the winter months. To maintain social distancing, boxes will be put in people’s cars for them.

Carlson added that the turnout for the market has been consistent in recent months, with an average of approximately 75 households served. He noted that the food program is supported by the Oregon Food Bank.

Neighborhood Missions also offers other assistance for housing costs, prescriptions and gas, plus food boxes in between the dates of each monthly food market. The organization will not hold its annual Harvest Festival this year due to the pandemic, but Carlson noted they have received donations that have recouped some of the funding the event would have provided.

“The good thing is so many people have been so generous in sending in monetary contributions,” he said. “That has been a relief for us.”

Monetary contributions can be sent to Neighborhood Missions, PO Box 594, Brightwood, OR 97011.

For more information on Neighborhood Missions, call 503-622-9213 or email neighborhoodmissions1@gmail.com.

By Garth Guibord/MT




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