LINCOLN COUNTY — There are heroes among us, quietly helping others in need. In these trying times, when jobs are lost overnight, when parks, schools and businesses are closed, when we don’t welcome visitors, a mainstay of our local economy, when everything seems volatile — some things remain the same. Neighbors are helping neighbors. Businesses, finding new ways to adapt, continue to support their community.
The News-Times seeks to recognize those who, like Karen Dummer and Pat Robertson, the people behind Lincoln City’s Backpacks for Kids, have long served those in need. Now they are working harder in new and challenging conditions.
Whether feeding people, helping them pay bills or finding a new way to supply people with what they need, those going out of their way to help others deserve recognition and appreciation.
Today, the News-Times spotlights Backpacks for Kids in Lincoln City, feeding between 250 and 350 children each year.
“We’ve been doing the backpack program on weekends since 2007, from Head Start all the way through high school,” Dummer said. “We feed them every weekend.
“The kids are hungry. It’s for them. We make sure the kids have their own food in their backpack,” she explained.
As a family advocate in the school district for 21 years, Dummer said hungry kids were often coming to her office for a sandwich. She connected with Pat Robertson, who worked in the school office, and they figured out a way to feed local children who otherwise might go hungry.
“We went out to the community and told them we wanted the food to be handed out directly to the child,” Dummer explained. They solicit donations and hold fundraisers.
“We have a real strong group of people all over the place that have sent us a check every month to put in our program, to keep our program running. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have a program,” Dummer noted.
“Mo’s has been a big supporter of ours for a long time,” she said. “Dave’s Killer Bread in Portland, we get anywhere from 350 to 450 loaves of bread, sometimes even more. We get a discount from McKay’s on peanut butter and jelly.”
LeeAnn Gabler told the News-Times, “Local banks held a peanut butter drive in August,” collecting 2,500 jars.
With students currently out of school, Backpacks for Kids is trying to adapt to continue to meet the needs of hungry children.
“We did 70 boxes on Friday,” Gabler said, with she and her husband driving to locations from Depoe Bay to Rose Lodge to meet families of children they serve. “If the kids don’t go back to school, it’s something we’ll do again.”
“We’re still on top of it,” said Dummer, “it’s just going to be a little bit different.”