Quintet collects quarter-ton of donations

December 15, 2008

By Christopher Huber

 

Sammamish residents (from left) Grace O'Neel (on lap), Cassie Carter, Griffin Carter, Zach Colburn and Sydney Colburn sit on the tailgate of a car after filling it with food collected from residents at the Arbors development in the Pine Lake neighborhood.Contributed

Sammamish residents (from left) Grace O'Neel (on lap), Cassie Carter, Griffin Carter, Zach Colburn and Sydney Colburn sit on the tailgate of a car after filling it with food collected from residents at the Arbors development in the Pine Lake neighborhood.Contributed

Sammamish residents Nancy Colburn, Tena Carter and Sheri O’Neel accompanied their children as they went door-to-door around their neighborhood to place fliers and empty grocery bags on people’s porches.

The five children, ranging in age from 3 to 10, were soliciting donations from residents of the Arbors at Pine Lake and Arbors Court developments for the Issaquah Food Bank last month. 

A week later, they made the rounds again, to collect the donations. After all was said and done, they had collected 616 pounds of boxed meals and canned goods — 779 items. It took two cars to haul it all to the food bank Nov. 25.

“They kept looking at us like, ‘When are you guys going to be done,’” Colburn said of when the families dropped it all off. “It was very cool. We had no idea it was going to be that much.” 

The selfless act then inspired three other Sammamish neighborhoods to follow suit, she said. Residents from Bellasera, Asbury Place and Palermo contributed another 250 items to the food bank.Two things inspired the children to do the good deed for those struggling this holiday season. 

The families had read a Sammamish Review article about the needs of the local food bank early in November and decided it would be a good idea to help the less-fortunate just in time for Thanksgiving. 

“We thought it was a great idea and we wanted to support them 100 percent,” O’Neel said about the children taking the lead on the project.

The second inspiration came Nov. 22 at a neighborhood “rice dinner” with local church Missio Lux, Colburn said. The dinner of only rice and water focused on opening people’s eyes to the realities for those who live in poverty around the world. Missio Lux members also contributed to the food drive.  

“It was great that we were able to inspire other people to do this, too,” Colburn said. 

Her daughter, Sydney Colburn, 8, led the group as they knocked on doors. She said the best part of the neighborhood project was “hoping and hoping and hoping for more coming” when they were counting all the donations.

After they reached their goal, she was excited about the results.

“I just kept saying, ‘These people will be so happy,’” Sydney Colburn said. 

The Issaquah Food Bank needs all it can get, in terms of food, warm clothing and volunteer time, said food bank Executive Director Cherie Meier. In the tough economic times, donations are waning and more area families are turning out than in years past.

Last Christmas season, 325 families came to the food bank, Meier said. This holiday season has already seen 472 local families utilize its services. 

“Were grateful for everything we get,” she said.

On average, the food bank distributes 50,000-60,000 pounds of food per month to families from Issaquah to Fall City, Meier said, but this month the organization will give out close to 100,000 pounds of food. She mentioned that local schools and various neighborhood groups accounted for approximately 14,000 pounds of food donated in November. 

“The need is being met right now,” Meier said. “But we’re hoping the community doesn’t forget about us, especially in January and February. Everything is cut back so much.”

For those interested in donating to the Issaquah Food Bank, Meier said giving money is better than food items because she can buy food in bulk at cheaper rates than in stores while also buying the exact items they need when they need them. 

With the cold season here, there is a great need for warm clothing like coats, hats, gloves, blankets and sleeping bags, Meier said. 

“The economy itself is obviously touching everyone, but not as much us as others,” Nancy Colburn said.

To donate to the Issaquah Food Bank, call 392-4123 or visit http://issaquahfoodbank.org. 

Reporter Christopher Huber can be reached at 392-6434, ext. 242, or at chuber@isspress.com. Make comments at www.issaquahpress.com.

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