PENINSULA — Loren H. Corder is still helping people — 33 years after his death.

In life, the former auto dealership owner and aviation enthusiast was a behind-the-scenes philanthropist.

“He stayed away from the public eye and local politics, but rather helped people when they needed help,” said Chuck Mikkola of Ocean Park.

When Corder died in 1988, his will created a foundation to spread the wealth.

Over the years, the Loren H. Corder Foundation has steered more than $2.4 million into community projects.

As the holiday season begins, the foundation is launching its third “Community Food Bank Challenge.”

It works simply: Supporters donate money directly to the three food banks in Ilwaco, Chinook and Ocean Park. On Dec. 21, at the end of the campaign, the foundation matches their totals up to a maximum of $12,000 each.

And Mikkola, who serves on the foundation’s four-member board, is confident the Peninsula will step up. “Please get your donations in and double the impact of your money,” he said.

Resilient community

In 2019, a six-week campaign raised $59,704 and the foundation kicked in $36,000. Afterward, Ilwaco Mayor Gary Forner signed a proclamation highlighting the effort while commending Corder’s interest in helping seniors through the food banks in South Pacific County.

With shutdowns and economic worries, foundation leaders feared the 2020 campaign might be tough. But even with a shorter timeframe, generous Peninsula folk raised $60,086, which was again “topped up” with $36,000 split between the three food banks.

Charlotte Paliani

Charlotte Paliani

“In 2020 with covid-19, you would think raising the match money might have been difficult, but this community is resilient, not only meeting the challenge but going beyond, matching every dollar that was available,” Mikkola said.

Busy time of year

It was a memorable day of celebration last December when Kathy Hughes from Chinook, Rachel Gana from the St. Vincent de Paul food bank in Ilwaco and Charlotte Paliani from Ocean Park gathered to learn of the campaign’s success.

Foundation’s leaders are offering the same match total for 2021. Paliani, treasurer at Ocean Park, is among those who is delighted. “It’s great that they are willing to do this again,” she said, noting that her food bank serves 400 families a month — that’s about 1,000 people.

“This community is phenomenal,” she said. November and December are key months for donations that help the food bank survive the year; this month they are getting 200 turkeys for Thanksgiving and gearing up to provide hams for Christmas. “People have been giving us their stimulus checks. It doesn’t matter what their politics [are], people here are so generous,” she added.

Helping was his passion

Corder owned the Oldsmobile dealership and a Fiat franchise in Vancouver before his retirement to the Peninsula, where he enjoyed hunting, fishing and flying his airplanes. He also developed several tracts into subdivisions.

His longtime partner, Marjorie House, boosted the foundation when she died. “She was well known for all her volunteer work,” Mikkola said. “Where there was a need, Marjorie was there offering her help.”

The foundation has donated to many groups, including the food banks, Pace Nutrition, Rebuilding Together, the South Pacific County Humane Society and the Loyalty Day parade.

Mikkola said helping is simple. “Your donation should go directly to the food bank of your choice, which will track their individual donations,” he said. “Let’s keep those food bank volunteers busy making deposits at the bank this year!”

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