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Finish line in sight for food pantry

Katherine Lacaze

The Daily Astorian

The fundraising campaign for the South County Community Food Bank is progressing and the permanent site should be operational in a few months.

The South County Community Food Bank is well on its way to achieving its fundraising goal to create a permanent site in Seaside, and there is no sign of the campaign slowing down.

Thanks to the community’s generosity, the nonprofit organization has raised about 70 percent of its capital and operational fundraising goal of $200,000.

“There are all sorts of things that are happening that are really exciting and are really connecting a whole network of people in our community to really make things happen,” said Mary Blake, a member of the South County Community Food Bank. “So everybody counts, and everybody can be a part of this.”

She said the organization’s capital and operational fundraiser is in an exciting phase, because word has gotten out about the effort.

“All of a sudden, people are just really (understanding) this idea of not only building a building, but building the capacity within the building to do great things,” she added.


Caring community


Under the direction of project manager Scott Rice, of SMR Construction in Gearhart, the two portable classrooms from the former Cannon Beach Elementary School are being spruced up and made functional. The permanent site of the food pantry at 2041 N. Roosevelt Drive, north of the bus barn, should be operational by October.

The total cost for constructing the food pantry, as well as at least one year of operations, was estimated at slightly more than $380,000.

The fundraising goal was set at $200,000, however, the organization already had some funds and also received about $110,000 of in-kind services to renovate the building.

“I’m trying to get as much stuff donated as we can,” so money raised can go toward food, Rice said.

Many companies from Seaside and the surrounding area are giving full or partial donations of materials and labor, such as paint, windows, roofing, siding, heaters, plumbing and construction work. Some companies are offering reduced prices or providing their product at-cost.

“We’ve got a lot of people stepping up and wanting to be a part of this project,” Rice said.

Individuals also have been donating their time, efforts and talents to the project. The Tongue Point Job Corps Center is considering the pantry as a potential work experience site for some of its members.

“This is just that perfect example of a caring community really coming together, because we shouldn’t have hunger in our community, and we’re putting action behind our dream,” Blake said.

The food pantry has not limited the type of donations it will accept. All gifts are welcome, from stocks and bonds, to property or a donation within a will. The organization has an account set up to receive those kinds of donations.


Hunger always there


“Those are the things you want to plan for the future, because hunger has been something that we’ve always had to address in our own little community,” Blake said.

The food pantry also has gained the support of businesses, such as Amazon and Fred Meyer, that have set up a method by which people can shop through the companies and designate the South County Community Food Bank as their charity of choice. The food pantry, then, will receive a small percentage of the total price of eligible purchases.

Grants for the organization have started coming in from several sources, such as the Samuel Jackson Foundation, the city of Seaside, Windermere Foundation and Clatsop Community Bank.

“Those are really stacking up,” Blake said.

The food pantry is hoping for grants from U.S. Bank, the Oregon Community Foundation and other sources the organization has pursued. Private individuals also are seeking grant opportunities for the food pantry.

“With people’s dollar-for-dollar matching grants, and also their contacts with other granting sources, this is rolling into a very inspiring project,” Blake said.


Events planned


In addition, the food pantry has a number of events planned, which, along with the potential grants, are estimated to bring in another $107,500 for the organization.

The first event will be the Grateful Hearts Gathering Sept. 27. The pantry will hold a birthday party in honor of Harry Miller, the former food pantry manager who will be turning 92. He served the organization for at least 25 years. Along with a birthday cake for Miller, the pantry will serve a soup made from products from Seaside’s community gardens and bread made by children from the 4-H program.

A canned food drive will accompany the event. The suggested donation to attend the public event is $10, and proceeds will go to the pantry.

The building should be almost completed by the Grateful Hearts Gathering, Blake said.

The process is in “a little bit of holding” stage right now, as the crew is in need of engineering to attach the two portable classrooms to create one large walk-through building. The engineering is in progress, Rice said. He hopes once the crew can get past this “hiccup” it still will be able to meet a target completion date set for the end of October.

After the food pantry has made its big move from the temporary site to the permanent site and started operations, Blake said, the group will complete its mural at the new building and hold a “Thanks for Giving” event in November.


Looking ahead


The $200,000 fundraising goal will be enough to sustain the pantry’s operations at least until 2016, Blake said. From there, the organization will rely on its traditional source of revenue, which is “grassroots donations from the community,” whether that be private donations; funds raised through a community event; gifts from farmers at the end of their season; high school students doing a Pacifica Project for the food pantry; or other methods.

For instance, the Rotary Club of Seaside at its annual auction in October plans to recognize Seaside Police Chief Bob Gross for his contributions to the community. The club will honor Gross’ retirement by applying funds raised in his name to the pantry’s capital campaign. Rotary also is doing a paddle bid during the auction, and the proceeds will go to the pantry.

“Those are the kind of things that help sustain the food bank on a yearly basis,” Blake said. “I think why it is so extraordinarily successful is that it is so immediate and you know where it’s going and you know who it’s helping.”

Until the permanent pantry site is ready, the organization is operating out of a temporary location in the former CRM building at 1725 N. Roosevelt Drive.

For more information about the food pantry and its fundraiser, visit the organization’s Facebook page by searching South County Community Food Bank, a food pantry.



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