Big need

Florence Food Share is seeing a massive need in the community, but several upcoming events give the community an opportunity to help those in need.

“Jenny and her kids will go hungry tonight, but they don’t have to,” said Colin Morgan, executive director of Florence Food Share.

“Jenny,” whose name is protected for privacy reasons, represents just one of approximately 1,700 individuals and 650 households Florence Food Share serves in Florence, Westlake, Dunes City and surrounding areas every month.

“She’s typical of a lot of single moms, many of whom work in our local economy, but they’re unable to earn enough to cover rent, childcare and food,” he added. “Many like her work seasonally in tourism, which employs about 1,900 of the roughly 4,600 job holders in the area, but their jobs are severely cut back or completely go away until late spring. They need the community’s support. They’re hardworking people.”

Of Florence Food Share’s clientele, one-third are children under 18. Another third are fixed-income seniors over 65. Many are disabled and unemployed. Many of the others are actually working but aren’t getting the necessary hours or compensation to make ends meet.

“A Desert Storm vet I’ll call ‘Frank’ is also a familiar kind of client. He used our services for about 12 months but got on his feet, got a good job and housing, and is now a donor,” explained Morgan. “He’s one of many success stories thanks to our generous supporters.”

But that need for support never ends. And that’s one reason Morgan said Florence Food Share welcomes what he calls “the giving season,” which is ramping up very quickly.

“Individuals and community groups in Florence are so generous, especially when Florence Food Share sends out a call for support as we do every year around this time,” explains Morgan. “We are incredibly blessed to have our two foremost supporting events coming up soon—Cindy Wobbe’s 21st annual Pounding on November 20, and the 25th annual Empty Bowls event at the Florence Events Center during the first two weekends of December.”

“In the 21-year history of the Pounding, I don’t think there has ever been a greater need in Florence for the critical services Florence Food Share provides,” said Pounding founder Cindy Wobbe of Cindy Wobbe Estate Sales and Liquidations in Florence. “And I don’t think I’ve ever been more motivated to see us fill the pantry, and the cupboards, and the freezer with nutrition-rich food for the hundreds of local families who struggle to make ends meet before the holidays. Our community leans in and steps up year after year to make the Pounding an amazing success. It’s a remarkable tradition that I’m humbled to be a part of.”

The Pounding takes place at the Grocery Outlet parking lot at 21st and Highway 101 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Donors are asked to drive through the designated and well-marked drop-off zone to deliver their contributions.

According to their announcement on the Florence Events Center’s website, EventCenter.org, the Empty Bowls Committee is excited to announce that after canceling last year due to COVID-19 that 2021 is their 25th year of hosting the Empty Bowls Fundraiser. The group said that this year will be bigger than ever due to expanding the event over two weekends—Friday, December 3, from 4 to 7 p.m.; Saturday, December 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday, December 10, from 4 to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, December 11, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Morgan said that the Pounding has provided as much as 30,000 pounds of food and a matching amount of funding from Klaus and Maria Witte of Top Hydraulics in Florence, and that Empty Bowls has resulted in more than $18,000 in contributions.

“One of the most helpful ways to contribute is through a monthly recurring gift. Those kinds of contributions help support even beyond the holidays, but the holidays are a great time to start them,” Morgan said. “We are so grateful for our community’s support, especially around the holidays, but the need continues year-round, and as Maria Witte says, ’Hunger doesn’t take a holiday.’”

The agency accepts contributions of canned, boxed, and packaged food. Our most needed items are canned meat, canned soup, canned vegetables, canned tomatoes, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, flour, oats, potatoes, onions, milk, and eggs.

“Florence Food Share works with clients so that we are truly helping those in need. We grow a lot of our food in onsite gardens and greenhouses. We offer our clients a shopping-style experience to select what they need instead of just handing them a box of food and hoping for the best,” Morgan explained. “They get nutritious food instead of spending for less nutritious food elsewhere, and they’re treated with great dignity to destigmatize the need for support.”

Contributions to Florence Food Share can be made by check made payable to Florence Food Share at P.O. BOX 2514, Florence, OR 97439, or dropped off at 2190 Spruce St. in Florence, next to the New Life Lutheran Church. Funds can also be given securely online at FlorenceFoodShare.org. For more information, contact Morgan at 541-997-9110 or email info@florencefoodshare.org.

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