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News / Clark County News

Drive aims to help nonprofit feed east county

Camas-Washougal Community Chest issues $5,000 challenge grant to help pay for van for Treasure House

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian staff writer
Published: May 10, 2014, 5:00pm

The Clark County Food Bank’s master list of local food pantries and emergency meal sites includes more than two dozen locations where hungry people can go for help.

Those sites are all over Vancouver and Hazel Dell, Battle Ground and Ridgefield. Helping to cover north Clark County is the La Center-based Lewis River Mobile Food Bank, which hauls trailers full of food to a different rural spot every Sunday.

Just one site is listed anywhere east of 164th Avenue: the Interfaith Treasure House at 91 “C” Street in Washougal. “Basically, we’re it,” said executive director Nancy Wilson.

The Treasure House gives out 60,000 pounds of food every month to as many as 1,300 people. It also sends food home with hungry schoolchildren through its weekend backpack program. And it operates a twice-per-week hot meal site, the Lost & Found Café, serving about 500 free meals per month.

That’s a lot of food, and the Treasure House owns one large van that makes regular runs to the Clark County Food Bank in East Minnehaha to fill up with whole pallets of supplies.

With daily donations also offered up by local schools, churches, stores and businesses, clubs and individuals — it doesn’t make sense to make those local rounds with a monster that gets eight miles to the gallon, Wilson said.

So volunteers — who run all the Treasure House’s activities, Wilson said — do that local driving, too, with their own vehicles. But many more volunteers either don’t have their own vehicles or are understandably reluctant to use them. All of which makes for complicated and unpredictable scheduling, Wilson said, causing opportunities to sometimes get missed.

“If our bread runners don’t have their own vehicles,” she said, “sometimes that bread has to wait, and it goes stale.”

Match offered

Therefore, Wilson concluded, it’s long past time for the Treasure House to own its own economical-to-operate minivan. The Camas-Washougal Community Chest, a homegrown foundation that supports numerous east county nonprofit agencies, thinks so, too.

Long a solid supporter of the Treasure House, the Community Chest offered the agency an emergency grant to buy food last fall when donations were down and things were looking desperate, but Wilson decided that building the Treasure House’s infrastructure through a smaller, fuel-efficient vehicle was an even better idea.

On May 1 the Community Chest issued a challenge grant to the community: The Community Chest will match, up to $5,000, donations to the Treasure House made in May, June and July of this year. The Treasure House is a registered nonprofit, so all donations are tax-deductible.

Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 815, Camas, WA, 98671; or dropped off at the Treasure House at 91 “C” St.; or at www.ifth-cw.org. For more information, call Wilson at 360-834-4181.

“We’re the east side,” said Community Chest board member Richard Reiter. “We do have a lower population and sometimes we’re sort of forgotten by the larger county. But there are a lot of families out here whose needs are very great — maybe not so much in Camas but a lot of families in Washougal, which is more blue collar.”