|4/17/2018 6:58:00 PM|
Athletes aid monthly food program
|Outlaws athletes help stock the food bank at Westside Church in Sisters. photo by Charlie Kanzig|
A delivery truck emblazoned with the NeighborImpact logo comes to Sisters once a month loaded with food for those in need. Westside Church in Sisters relies on volunteers to help maintain this effort monthly during the year as the distribution center for Sisters.
At Westside, Lois Kaping, co-coordinator of the program, along with Paula Lovegren, has been able to rely on some youthful energy on distribution days from athletic teams from Sisters High School, creating a win-win situation for all involved.
The truck pulls up to the church filled to the brim with around 800 pounds of produce, dairy products, and all manner of other food staples. The monthly "Brown Bag" program occurs the second Friday of every month.
According to Kaping, about 70 area families access the Brown Bag program in a month, which is estimated to help 235 people per month.
"The goal is to help supplement some of the food needs individuals and families in our community may have," she said.
The monthly event is highly organized. Volunteers arrive ahead of the truck, and as soon as it shows up the church becomes a beehive of activity. Volunteers, including high school students from teams, unload the truck and begin loading up the tables. Other helpers begin the finer organization of items so that when the doors open at 4:30 p.m. things are ready to go.
Kaping explained the process: "Food recipients get a number when they sign in and collection of food is then done by a lottery system. Each family member is allowed to "shop" with one bag. Larger families are allowed to take a second turn once everyone has gone through once. If there is food remaining after the first rounds, which there usually is, anyone can shop during the final round.
Gary Thorson, athletic director at Sisters High School, came up with the idea of having athletic teams help out.
"I knew about the program from church and really thought it would be a win-win for our students to get involved and provide easy access to helpers for the program," he said.
During the different athletic seasons, Thorson arranges with the coaches to have a day designated for their particular team to help.
"It is good that the kids become more aware of the needs in the community and they always come away feeling good about having helped with something important," said Thorson. "At Sisters High School we believe in having the kids contribute, and it is clear that their involvement has an impact on them. I think it is eye-opening for many of them to realize the needs in our community close up."
The phrase "many hands make light work" holds true when the high school students show up to help.
Last Friday a group from the Sisters High School track team arrived after school and in short order had the truck emptied and the tables inside stacked with food.
"The track and cross-country teams are used to being timed, so they get right to it," said Kaping. "Although it is not a competition, I do know that the cross-country team holds the record of unloading the truck in nine minutes!"
Members of Westside Church, and other volunteers, also help with the program.
Westside Church also has a weekly food pantry that takes place every Thursday beginning at 12:30 p.m. according to Kaping. In addition, the Sisters Kiwanis Food Bank, which is also associated with NeighborImpact, is open for food distribution every Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The NeighborImpact website includes information on all the food programs as well as the other offerings that they organize at www.neighborimpact.org.
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