Get Home Delivery of The Observer for only $8.50 per month, $9.50 for motor routes. Just click here and after filling out one simple and secure online form you could be on your way to learning more information about local, state and world news.
Fred Bell Sr., right, and his son Fred Jr., center, examine some of the food their family donated to DHS. Steve West, a family friend, is on the left. (PHIL BULLOCK/The Observer)
Department of Human Services benefits in a big way from donation by a La Grande family
Fred Bell Sr. of La Grande was shocked by what he heard.
A day later, members of the staff at the Department of Human Resources office in La Grande were shocked by what they saw.
Bell was disturbed earlier this month to learn from his friend, Steve West of La Grande, that the Department of Human Resources office in La Grande had almost no food reserves left for needy families and individuals. All that remained was a packet of instant noodles.
This was unacceptable in the mind of Bell, who quickly decided to take matters into his own hands.
“I called my sons and said, ‘We are going to take care of this,’’’ he said.
Fred Bell Sr. and his sons, Fred Jr. and Brian, proceeded to do just that.
The trio went to Grocery Outlet in Island City and returned with $1,500 worth of food for the Department of Human Services in La Grande. The majority of the food was purchased by the Bells, and a large sum was donated by Randy Wilson, the owner of Grocery Outlet.
Tears flowed and jaws dropped, according to West, when the Bells brought the food into the DHS office earlier this month.
“People started yelling. It was amazing,’’ said Tammy Pierce, the coordinator for the DHS in Union, Wallowa and Baker counties.
Pierce has never seen a food donation of this magnitude made in the six years she has been with the DHS.
“Nothing touches what those people did,” Pierce said.
The groceries were desperately needed by the DHS, which provides food to people in need. These are often individuals who have successfully applied for food stamps but will not receive them for some time because of processing delays.
“These are people who need food immediately,” said Krista Turner, the supervisor for child welfare for the local DHS office.
Turner is delighted that the DHS’s food worries are over for the moment.
“We have never had this much food,” she said.
West, recalling the comment he made which sparked Fred Bell Sr. into action, stressed that he had simply made an offhand remark. He in no way was requesting that Bell make a donation.
“It was an incredible act of kindness,” West said. “The Bell family loves this community. They want to be there for the community.”