LONG BEACH — Volunteers from the three local food banks and other supporters gathered at the Long Beach Christmas tree at Veterans Field in Long Beach under cloudy skies on Tuesday, Dec. 29.
Even though it was after Christmas, you could feel the Christmas spirit and community pride beaming from those gathered. In the Dec. 9 edition of the Chinook Observer, the Loren H. Corder Foundation challenged the community to matching donations up to $10,000 each for the three food banks, as $30,000 would be a major impact considering so many here are out of work and have turned to programs such as food banks just to put food on the table.
The foundation started this challenge in 2019 and it ran for nearly six weeks. That first year was outstanding, and the community raised $59,704. The Loren H. Corder Foundation upped their match to $12,000 each for the 2019 Challenge total of $95,704.
This year was different and the foundation needed money to attempt this in 2020. It became a waiting game hoping investment income would improve. By early December it was apparent the challenge was on again but the timeline was short, far less time than in 2019. However, two things favored the challenge: free money if the food bank could inspire donations and the community benefit is huge as impacts go.
Those gathered around the Christmas tree on Dec. 29 were not worried. They had met their goals of collecting $10,000 each. It started with the Chinook Food Bank’s volunteer Kathy Hughes saying they collected $16,498. With that Chuck Mikkola, representing the Loren H. Corder Foundation, handed her an envelope. Upon opening the envelope she could only say “Oh my.”
Next came Ilwaco Food Bank volunteer Rachel Gana, who was beaming ear to ear and said they had collected $16,274. With that Gana was handed an envelope. Upon opening the envelope she let the cat out of the bag saying the check was for $12,000.
Next was Ocean Park Food Bank volunteer Charlotte Paliani, who said they had donations totaling $27,314, and received the last envelope for yet another $12,000. The surprise was the foundation was confident the community would raise more than the $10,000 each and therefore decided to fund up to $12,000 each towards the match.
Everyone may have thought it was over but it was not, as more money was yet forthcoming. The Reach-out Thrift Store volunteer in attendance, Diane Moore, said they decided to help the challenge and handed out $1,000 checks to each food bank. Then the Chinook Observer reporter said wait I have some money as well and $150 was handed out to each of the food banks.
To say it was a cloudy day was wrong as the smiles made for a very bright day for the volunteers and for the community as the 2020 Food Challenge closed with a grand total of $99,537 worth of donations. As Mikkola said, it ‘blew the socks off’ last year’s donation drive.