Food bank serves those in need

Food bank volunteers with food to be given out Dec. 21. They are, from back, Billye Jones, Tim Brown, Dan Meek, June Floyd, Pat Thomsen, Sarah Meek and Cathy Peirolo. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)


By Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

Giving tree gifts fill the living room of Cathy Peirolo in Douglas prior to being delivered to the food bank in four carloads. (Provided photo/Cathy Peirolo)

Waterville Food Bank Director Cathy Peirolo was at first a bit nervous that 75 children in Waterville needed Christmas gifts this year. However, she didn’t end up having anything to worry about because gift tags were all gone within three days of being placed at the two banks in town.

North Cascades Bank had a “giving tree” up and Umpqua Bank had a “giving wall” this year. People who stopped by either of the banks could choose a tag, purchase a gift for a child from ages 1 to 18, wrap it and return it to the bank by Dec. 19.

“People were extra generous this year,” Peirolo said.

Organizing those gifts — which were divided into about 90 separate packages — was a bit of a task. She brought them back to her living room and spent two days bagging them up in large sacks by family. She then labeled them carefully and brought them back to the food bank in four carloads to be given out on Dec. 21.

Peirolo said that it is more common to have tags for between 50 and 60 children.

She added that though families from other communities sometimes come to the food bank for food, the gifts were only available to children who lived in Waterville and the surrounding countryside.

In the back room of the food bank building, volunteers Terry Larkin and Anna Kazantseva were ready to give out the bags as families came around to the back door to receive them.

Larkin said she has a passion for the children’s gifts. For some children, it may be the only gift they receive and it is important to her that no child should miss out on receiving a gift at Christmas.

“We’re so thankful for the generosity of all the people that donated,” Larkin said.

In the front room, food of all kinds was piled high on the tables and labeled with a number on each item that could be taken by individual families. Food bank volunteers gave extra items to those who they knew had large families. There were also frozen hams, donated by the Waterville Lions Club, that were distributed to local families.

Some volunteers had been busy since 9 a.m. helping to unload the Northwest Harvest truck and get food items organized on and around the tables.

Just before the building opened at 2:30 p.m., Billye Jones was preparing treat bags for the children who would arrive. Jones, who has been a volunteer for eight years, got the idea to do the bags about a year ago. She is sometimes able to use small, packaged food items that have been donated, and sometimes she buys items for the bags. Jones said that the children have come to look forward to receiving them each time.

Peirolo said that there are other volunteers who are very important to the operation of the food bank. These anonymous individuals have been removing snow from the food bank pathways and the sidewalk. She especially wanted to express appreciation for this contribution.

“We much appreciate that, but we’re never down there to see who that is,” Peirolo added.