Food banks receive $5,000 boost from Walmart

By Chris Baxter, The Observer May 18, 2011 02:34 pm

Associates at the Island City Walmart earned a $5,000 grant by volunteering time to collect food for Community Connection of Northeast Oregon. Among the 63 workers who helped were (front row, left to right) Lucas Wagoner, Georgia Payne, Tricia Dutcher, Ruth Johnson and Jamie Wagner; and (back row) Bill Morris, Tim Louden, Stephanie Jasper and Brian Girrard. At the right in the back row are Store Manager Tony Tony Betzold and Carmen Gentry of Community Connection. BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH / The Observer
Associates at the Island City Walmart earned a $5,000 grant by volunteering time to collect food for Community Connection of Northeast Oregon. Among the 63 workers who helped were (front row, left to right) Lucas Wagoner, Georgia Payne, Tricia Dutcher, Ruth Johnson and Jamie Wagner; and (back row) Bill Morris, Tim Louden, Stephanie Jasper and Brian Girrard. At the right in the back row are Store Manager Tony Tony Betzold and Carmen Gentry of Community Connection. BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH / The Observer

Area food banks got a big boost recently thanks to Walmart and its sales associates at the Island City Store.

Walmart recently presented Community Connection of Northeast Oregon — the non-profit social service agency that operates food banks in Union, Wallowa, Baker and Grant counties — with a $5,000 grant to help feed the hungry.

And that’s not all. In October and November of last year, Walmart sales associates staffing a collection point at the store gathered more than 4,500 pounds of donated food.

In addition to that, the local store this spring donated 13,000 pounds of perishable food through the Fresh Alliance program.

Community Connection Food Bank Manager Carmen Gentry said Walmart has become a key player in the effort to make sure everybody in the area has enough to eat.

“People who are hungry during these difficult economic times need the extra boost in nutritional foods,” Gentry said. “All the food collected at our local Walmart stays in our community to help neighbors in need.”

In order to get the $5,000 grant, store associates were required to volunteer 250 hours manning the food collection point.

“It went wonderful,” said Jamie Wagner, an associate who helped organize the drive. “We had 63 volunteers who put in the necessary time.”

Store manager Tony Betzold said he is more than happy with the effort of his employees.

“They really came together as a team and did a good thing,” he said. “The extra $5,000 will go a long way toward helping the community.”