During Walk & Knock this year, there will be no knocking and not much walking. Clark County’s largest annual food drive benefiting the Clark County Food Bank asks people to drive and drop off donations Dec. 5 at designated places around the area.
“This group wouldn’t think about canceling or postponing,” Walk & Knock President Tom Knappenberger said. “They wouldn’t even hear of not doing something this year.”
He remembers his reaction when the National Association of Letter Carriers canceled its annual springtime food drive.
“I thought, ‘Thank goodness our drive is in December. This COVID business will be done by then,'” Knappenberger said.
Of course, Walk & Knock soon figured out it needed a plan B. In the past, volunteers knocked on people’s doors asking for donations or picked up bags of nonperishable food that donors left on their doorsteps.
Instead, Walk & Knock used money traditionally spent on paper grocery bags for the food drive to print and mail postcards detailing the drive and its new system. The intent is to reduce interactions with other people.
“Safety is our No. 1 overriding goal. There’s no food gathered that’s worth people getting sick,” Knappenberger said. He noted that many people involved in Walk & Knock are seniors who are particularly vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.
Between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Dec. 5, donors can drop off donations of nonperishable food or toiletries to one of eight sites:
• View Ridge Middle School, 3215 S. Hillhurst Road, Ridgefield.
• Lewisville Intermediate Campus, 406 N.W Fifth Ave., Battle Ground.
• Chuck’s Produce, 2302 N.E. 117th Ave., Vancouver.
• Walmart, 14505 N.E. Fourth Plain Blvd., Vancouver.
• Clark County Food Bank, 6502 N.E. 47th Ave., Vancouver.
• Hudson’s Bay High School, 1601 E. McLoughlin Blvd., Vancouver.
• Parkrose Hardware, 16509 S.E. First St., Vancouver.
• Excavator Rental Services, 754 S.E. Union St., Camas.
Also, between now and Dec. 14, people can bring donations to any Les Schwab Tire Center, Cost Less Auto Parts or Riverview Community Bank in Clark County during business hours. Financial donations for purchasing food are welcome, too.
Washington State University Vancouver students took on Walk & Knock as a class project, helping develop a social media campaign and a Drive & Drop logo to get the word out about the changes.
Knappenberger isn’t sure what response to expect. While the new format may not result in as many donations, people are aware of the economic need and may feel inspired to give. He’s seen people’s generosity rise during tough times. The food bank’s drive-thru food distributions have resulted in lines of cars stretching down Minnehaha Street. Last year, Walk & Knock collected more than 276,220 pounds of food for the food bank.
It’s too soon to say what Walk & Knock will look like in 2021 and whether everything will return to normal. In the food drive’s 36-year history, Knappenberger said, there has been rain, snow and cold temperatures but never a catastrophic event that led to a cancellation.
“Knock on wood,” he said.