CAN-do attitude pays off

By Observer editorial November 19, 2012 01:51 pm

In 2008, money and jobs dried up in Union County as the hard time known forever as the Great Recession began. In the spring of that year, Fleetwood Enterprises closed its recreational vehicle plant near Island City.  A few months later Boise Cascade curtailed a shift at its La Grande sawmill and laid off 30 workers at the particleboard plant near Island City.  Barreto Manufacturing, maker of rototillers and trenchers, went to a one-day-a-week work schedule that fall.

The recession hurt just about everyone. County-wide unemployment climbed to double digits, and business slowed everywhere.  That nasty winter of 2008, more than a few people were forced into choosing between paying their rent or mortgage, or going without food.

The threat of hunger in our community gave birth to the Community Action Network, a coalition of local businesses and individuals who cared about their neighbors, and set out to make sure everyone had enough to eat.  The first CAN food drive, in November, 2008, netted 15,500 pounds of food and $4,000 in cash donations, all going to local food banks. 

The network has held a food drive every November since, helping the charity pantries keep pace with need that hasn’t slowed by much. This year’s CAN campaign brought in about 30,000 pounds of food, counting corporate donations and collections one Saturday at area supermarkets. 

That’s 5,000 pounds more than what was gathered in 2011, and almost double the amount collected in the inaugural drive. Added to food collected by the local Boys Scouts in a concurrent drive, it’s a hardy buffer against hunger this coming winter.

CAN has been a sustained success through some very hard times, an all-volunteer effort that’s a shining example of community goodwill. The people who make it go deserve many thanks and much praise, and so do the hundreds of citizens who give to it so generously, year after year.