Union County isn’t out of the recessionary woods yet, and there are plenty of families still struggling to get by. The Island City Wal-Mart store continues to lend a hand.
helping hands: Wal-Mart associates Amanda Birkey and Sandee Fox (front row) were leaders in the local store’s recent effort to win $5,000 in food and personal hygiene items for Community Connection of Northeast Oregon. Others in the picture include (second row) Community Connection’s Carmen Gentry, Brian Girrard, Carolyn Pierce, Darlene Weber, Sarah Henley, Dody Gray and Melinda McKaig; and (back row) Judy Witherspoon, Sandi Miller, Holly Wanty, Mark Paslay, Jim Russell, Stephanie Jasper and Tiffany Tucker. Assistant Manager Tim Louden stands at far right; next to him is Associate Justin Clark. More than 50 Wal-Mart workers donated their own time in a variety of volunteer activities for Community Connection. The Observer/BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH
This summer, local Wal-Mart associates took part in “Volunteerism Always Pays,” the discount chain’s nation-wide effort to help local charitable organizations.
Associates from the Island City store contributed hundreds of volunteer hours to Community Connection, the non-profit agency that offers an array of social services, including a food bank program. Community Connection supplies food banks throughout the region.The associates loaded and unloaded trucks at the Community Connection food bank warehouse, served meals at the Union County Senior Center and helped with the Meals on Wheels program. They also organized successful food drives at the store.
To win the $5,000 award for Community Connection, 50 associates needed to contribute at least 250 volunteer hours. They more than met the challenge, said Assistant Manager Tim Louden.
“The requirement was 250 hours, but these people gave far more than that, and it was all their own time,” Louden said. “This is a cool program. Sam Walton always believed in giving back, and Wal-Mart’s always been involved in helping the communities.”
Carmen Gentry, Community Connection’s food bank manager, said pressure on local food pantries remains high in Union County.
According to the most recent statistics, pantries overseen by Community Connection served 992 people and 440 households in the county in July of this year, as opposed to 967 people and 394 households in July 2008.
Gentry expressed gratitude for Wal-Mart’s gift. The timing couldn’t have been better, she said. “It’s a huge donation, especially for the current economic times. People are still struggling,” she said.