Children from Creative Kids Learning Center brought food to the Keizer Community Food Bank on Nov. 21, where they saw how empty the pantry shelves are. (Submitted)

Of the Keizertimes

In multiple ways, the timing couldn’t have been better.

Last Wednesday, 15 students plus staff from the Creative Kids Learning Center on Evans Avenue brought in 15 boxes of food to the Keizer Community Food Bank, located in the Faith Lutheran Church at 4505 River Road North.

The youth saved Thanksgiving for several families in line at the time.

“Everyone thought it was great to see the kids come in with their food,” said Rev. Curt McCormack, director of the food bank. “We immediately put some of what they brought into the food box. We took stuff straight to the boxes. The need is that great.”

When the students came in, they saw bare shelves.

“I was pretty surprised when I saw the shelves,” said 10-year-old Michael McGovern, a fifth-grader at Cummings Elementary. “They were running out and taking the food. It made me feel good to be able to help.”

Misty Rubio, owner of Creative Kids, noted this was the second year having children donate food. About 120 pounds of food were donated.

“A lot of the people there were overwhelmed,” Rubio said. “A lot of them were very teary-eyed. They really enjoyed it. It was nice to see it was needed and much appreciated.”

McGovern was glad to improve the Thanksgiving time for many.

“It feels pretty good,” he said. “It led to a better Thanksgiving for me.”

As is the case each year, Rubio and her staff had a Thanksgiving meal for her students Nov. 21. Donating food on the same day sent a strong message.

“It really changed the Thanksgiving,” she said. “It showed us to be thankful for what we have. It helps you to see there’s a great need all the time.”

Based on the experience, Rubio said she and her students will be going down once or twice a month now.

“You don’t realize how much it helps people,” Rubio said. “It can be anything. You can get even just one or two cans. I hope other people will help out.”

That’s what McCormack hopes, too.

“We rely on the community,” McCormack said. “We are a donation place. That’s how we get the food.”

While many of the food bank’s items come from Marion County Food Share, that is based on last year’s allotment levels, even though the need is 25 percent higher this year.

“We get about $30,000 a year in money donations, then turn around and buy extra food with that,” he said. “We have had to buy a lot of food this year.”

Food can be dropped off for the food bank at barrels in Tony’s House of Comics, ACE Hardware, Uptown Music, Faith Lutheran Church or John Knox Presbyterian.