The past year we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of families we are serving through our front door with emergency food and clothing. As the need has grown, I am happy to report we’ve also had the ability and willingness to grow our services. In a time when resources are ever shrinking I’m proud to say we’ve actually been able to expand our capacity and respond to the unprecedented need by now being open on Saturday’s. One day may not seem like much, but this extra day will allow us to reach families that are not able to make our standard Monday-Friday hours. This is particularly great for low income working families or single parents that can’t get away during the work week.
Awareness of the issue of hunger in our community and the services we offer at the Sunshine Division is also very important. We are so happy to partner with BedMart this summer for the “Hunger Doesn’t Vacation” awareness, food, and fundraising campaign. The goal of this campaign is to highlight the need that grows every summer for the thousands of local kids, who during the school year have free or reduced lunches at their schools but when summer hits are in dire need for food as two of their possible three meals a day are no longer available.
With the Hunger Doesn’t Vacation campaign BedMart and the Sunshine Division are working together to educate the community about some very sobering statistics. What we know is that two of the largest local school districts; Reynolds and David Douglas, both in Multnomah County posted the third- and fourth-highest poverty rates among large Oregon districts. In those two, nearly one in three children — or more than 7,800 5- to 17-year-olds — lived in poverty during 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The 2010 child poverty rates for Reynolds (32 percent) and David Douglas (31 percent) represented a sharp climb from 2009, when 5,500 children in those two districts, or about 27 percent, lived below the poverty line. Census experts put the child poverty rate in Oregon’s largest school district, Portland Public Schools, at 18 percent in 2010, much higher than the 2008 estimate of 14 percent.
That’s why we are working side by side with BedMart this summer. We are hoping to spread the word that hunger isn’t seasonal and doesn’t go away in the summer; in fact it worsens for many kids. We are working together to let the community know that Sunshine Division which is best known for our holiday food boxes is open year round and is not just a year-end concern or service. We are talking about the increased need many families and kids face during summer and we are asking the community to support our efforts so that we can deliver for the thousands of kids and families that are struggling while school is out. BedMart has generously stepped up on a number of fronts this summer! Here is how they are helping and how you can join them.
1. Raising food in all of their stores through Labor Day (click the link to find a local BedMart to drop off food in a Sunshine Division barrel: http://www.bedmartnw.com/locations )
2. Raising funds through an online fundraising tool, make a gift by clicking here:
3. Raising awareness through their local media partners and in stores. Have you seen Officer Kent on TV this summer, if so it was due to BedMart’s support!
Please join us this summer as we work together to help families and children that are in a time of crisis.