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Sandy Lund of La Grande makes a donation to the Community Action Network food drive Saturday at Safeway. Looking on are Janice Bozarth and her husband, John, who were working as volunteers at the Safeway collection site of the food drive. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
CAN food drive reaches 36,000-pound mark
Union County residents did some heavy lifting collectively for the less fortunate on Saturday.
Approximately eight tons of food were donated in the La Grande and Island City area to the annual Community Action Network food drive. The 16,000 pounds of food improved the total raised by this year’s CAN food drive, which ended Saturday, to 36,000 pounds. The drive kicked off in late October when the Union County business community donated 20,000 pounds of food.
The 36,000-pound total surpassed last year’s CAN drive total of 33,000 pounds.
“We are very happy with how it went,” said Jeff Puckett, the chair of CAN food drive.
The food was taken to Community Connection of Northeast Oregon, which will distribute it to food banks throughout Union County.
Much of the food was donated by shoppers at Safeway in La Grande and Grocery Outlet and Walmart in Island City. A substantial portion was also provided by people contributing to a Boy Scout food drive in Union County run in conjunction with the CAN effort.
A total of 33 volunteers manned CAN food collection stations Saturday at Grocery Outlet, Safeway and Walmart. All the stations were outdoors, which meant the volunteers had to endure periodic wind gusts and minor snow flurries.
“It was no big deal. It is part of serving the community,” said volunteer Tawnya Lubbes of La Grande.
Lubbes and all of the volunteers handed out lists of preferred items for the food drive to people entering the stores. The preferred food items listed included canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, rice and canned soups. The list also included non-food items such as soap, toothbrushes, shampoo and detergent.
Shoppers emerged from the stores with items from the list. Many shoppers went all out.
“One woman had an entire shopping cart of peanut butter,” Lubbes said.
A shopper at Grocery Outlet donated $1,000 worth of food. The donation was made on Friday, said Grocery Outlet Owner Randy Wilson.
Wilson provided a 10-percent discount at his store for every purchase that was donated.
Karyl Kramer of La Grande, who was working as a CAN volunteer at Walmart, said she could sense that a number of people making donations were people who had needed help from local food banks in the past.
“They feel a need to give back,” Kramer said.
On the corporate side, a total of at least 10 local businesses contributed $1,000 or an equal amount of food for the CAN effort. They included Anderson Perry and Associates, Banner Bank, Boise Cascade, employees of the Grande Ronde Hospital, Hancock Forest Management, Legacy Auto Group, Les Schwab Tire, Life Flight Network, Mountain Valley Therapy and Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Eastern Oregon. In-kind corporate sponsors included The Observer and Elkhorn Media.
Leading donors from this group included Legacy Auto Group which donated 2-1/2 pickup truck loads of food.
“This is one of many things we do to give back to the community,” said Dennie Rankin of Legacy Auto Group. “A lot of thought went into this.”