The Columbia Gorge Helping Hands Food Salvage Program is an outreach program dedicated to providing food assistance to residents of Corbett and the neighboring rural communities east of the Sandy River. The Program started as a conversation between neighbors in 2000. Spearheaded by the late Albert Kimbley, who enlisted many of the volunteers still with the HH program, it is housed in the lower level of the Grange Hall.
Today Helping Hands has over 100 volunteers and serves more than 1,500 families a week. Our volunteers are very dedicated, traveling almost 5,000 miles a month to gather donated items. Over 1,000 hours per month are donated to the program by the volunteers who drive and collect foodstuffs, off-load, clean, organize, and staff the facility throughout the week, thereby providing the donations of food and personal items to the needy.
Other volunteers prepare and serve the weekly Senior Lunch, engineer repairs and improvements in the building and to equipment, provide maintenance, and hire county-required licensed electricians or other specialists when necessary. Seasonal Food Baskets are distributed from these resources in conjunction with the Portland Sunshine Division and local churches. Much organization is required, and the Director, Assistant Director, Driver's Coordinator and the Volunteer Coordinator provide structure and inter-connectedness. As non-profits are required to keep meticulous records, some volunteers are engaged in bookkeeping.
The Helping Hands Program works with Cascade Locks, Ames, Bridal Veil, Springdale, and other nearby rural communities. Especially in the last six years, Helping Hands has come a long way in assisting those families on limited incomes toward the goal of having adequate food resources. Our program collects donated food from the greater Portland area and makes these resources available on Monday and Thursday afternoons every week. Food is distributed to over 500 families on a weekly basis. What makes this effort different from other programs? We are rural communities - the places where other food assistance programs don't easily reach. We are committed to serving seniors on fixed incomes as well as those families who make their lives in the country. Because this is a food salvage program, we receive dated and damaged items that we can distribute to farm animals as well. All donations are used; nothing goes to waste. Every donation helps many families in these communities.
This program enhances many facets of life. People who wouldn't normally see one another for weeks or months now come together and visit over a cup of coffee. Two shopping days a week provide a place for neighbors in the area to connect. They are strengthening community ties and friendships, and forming a network of caring and safety. They receive much needed food, companionship, and a touch-base with neighbors. Outdated bread, dairy, and produce are used for chickens, cows, and pigs; nothing goes to waste. Every donation helps many families in the communities.