Photo by Barry LaMont
FISH volunteers and store owner Albert Choi, at right, load up $1,000 in meat for transport to the Cascade Locks FISH freezers.
As of Tuesday, December 12, 2017
A short drive down Cascade Locks’ main drive should last for months.
Volunteers last week transported food — $1,000 in meat — from Columbia Market a few blocks east to the freezers at the FISH food bank, in the latest act of support from outside the west Gorge community for those in need.
The food bank accepted the four-figure grant from the national group Freedom from Religion, which carried out a shopping trip to Columbia Market to stock up on meat that will go to clients of the food bank.
“It should last the food bank several months,” said Cheryl Kolbe of Portland, chapter president of Freedom from Religion, who worked with the food bank’s Martha LaMont and Columbia Market owner Albert Choi to complete the donation, which had been approved by the donor group’s national board.
Kolbe said the donation was less a holiday effort as a response to the community’s greater need.
“We particularly wanted to help out as a result of the Eagle Creek fire,” Kolbe said. “We knew there are still many needs.”
The gift may have come from outside Cascade Locks, but Kolbe saw it as vital to keep the transaction in town.
“We preferred to work with the local market as a way to benefit a local business, (and) at the same time we are helping the food bank,” Kolbe said.
The Freedom from Religion assist to Cascade Locks is another example of a growing number of outreach acts from around Oregon and Washington. Last month, the Washington Pilots Association flew and drove to Cascade Locks a shipment of turkeys and trimmings for 150 families to enjoy Thanksgiving.
During the fire, LaMont reported numerous donations of goods and cash from the Gorge and Oregon coming to FISH, in addition to those Cascade Locks residents provided for their neighbors who had to evacuate their homes for weeks in September with resulting income loss among other disruptions.
Throughout the fire, including periods when downtown was officially closed, Columbia Market teamed with FISH to keep local residents stocked up with supplies. FISH provided vouchers which the market redeemed, often staying open extra hours under challenging conditions.
“Both the market and FISH have done a wonderful job trying to help the community. This is a very caring community,” Kolbe said.
She said the Freedom from Religion group works to “promote the principles in the U.S. Constitution and to educate the public about the concept separation of church and state.”