FFA food collection

Les Schwab employee, Darrell Holcomb (standing on tailgate), helps unload 2900 pounds of food meant for distribution to the needy at Community Connection. The 2900 pounds of dry and canned foods is more than twice that collected the previous year.

Thanks to a joint effort by the Joseph and Enterprise FFA chapters and Les Schwab, the Community Connection food bank can breathe a little easier ... for a while.

Both the FFA and Schwab’s just completed their annual fall food drive, gathering in a whopping 2900 pounds of dry and canned foods — more than twice last year’s total.

Enterprise High School FFA seniors, Sam Schaafsma, 18, and Sidney Stonebrink, 17, called the effort very satisfying.

“This is a project we’ve done every year for the community,” Schaafsma said. “Sam and I took it on as our community service project,” Stonebrink added. Both said that the FFA and Les Schwab took on the annual event about 10 years ago.

The two groups start with a large container placed in Les Schwab, located at 802 NW 1st St. in Enterprise.

With that accomplished, Schaafsma and Stonebrink got busy in the school system. On Oct. 1, FFA officers visited classrooms to explain the drive to students and teachers and pass out flyers to reach as many people as possible.

“Sam and I went and collected from all the boxes we had at the elementary and junior high classes,” Stonebrink said. “Every day for the whole month of October we went down and collected from those.”

Darrell Holcomb of Les Schwab said the company was glad to help.

“It’s all about giving back to the community; that’s what supports our business,” he said. “We try to support our local people and any time we can lend a help hand, well, that’s what we’re here for. It’s really great to be a part of anything involved with our youth.”

Community Connection joyfully received the donation for its food bank, and CC director, Connie Guentert said it came at a great time.

“Typically, people who access the food bank don’t access it in summer because of summertime employment,” she said. “We’ve not encountered that this year. It did not slow down much.”

Consequently, the organization has been unable to build up food bank stores as in the past. She said that what the FFA and Les Schwab did with their donation was a tremendous boost for the holiday season. She noted that November, December and January are the months in which many of the county’s families struggle hardest to put food on the table.

“Having another ton-and-a-half of food to assist people is really, really important,” Guentert said. She added that food bank reserves will not last for long.

“Between this and the Thanksgiving boxes we work with Safeway and the Oregon Food Bank on, it will probably all be gone in the next month.” She again lauded the efforts of the FFA, Les Schwab and the community in the effort to combat community food shortages.

Both Stonebrink and Schaafsma lauded the community effort as well.

“I would say a large majority of the community helped with this,” Schaafsma said.

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