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News / Clark County News

Walk & Knock drive returns in full force at Hudson’s Bay High School

Volunteers of all ages deliver thousands of pounds of goods to Clark County Food Bank

By Griffin Reilly, Columbian staff writer
Published: December 3, 2022, 7:16pm
7 Photos
A diverse cast of volunteers, from high school students to retired folk, sort through nonperishable food and goods donated by local residents for the annual Walk & Knock campaign in Vancouver on Saturday.
A diverse cast of volunteers, from high school students to retired folk, sort through nonperishable food and goods donated by local residents for the annual Walk & Knock campaign in Vancouver on Saturday. (Allison Barr for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The cafeteria at Hudson’s Bay High School is typically a busy place.

On Saturday, however, the school’s entryway took it up a notch, serving as a drop-off center for Clark County’s 38th Walk & Knock campaign.

A team of volunteers across all ages — from high school students to retired folk — formed an assembly line of box-makers, box-packers and truck-loaders. In just a few hours, the group would load an 18-wheeler with thousands of pounds of non-perishable food items and home supplies donated by local residents to be delivered to the Clark County Food Bank.

Hudson’s Bay High was one of 10 drop-off centers in action on Saturday. Though it was busy, event organizers pointed to centers like Fire Station 6 in Hazel Dell and Wy’east Middle School as carrying the drive’s biggest burdens.

In 2020 and 2021, the event was limited in its capacity; community members resorted to driving to locations like Hudson’s Bay to drop off their donated foods. This year, mirroring 2019 and previous years, volunteers returned to their routine of picking up goods left directly on people’s doorsteps and at about 80 drop-off bins across the county.

At its height, Walk & Knock is regarded as the largest single-day food drive in the United States. As of Saturday afternoon, event director Tom Knappenberger estimated that the 2022 campaign collected 121,961 pounds of food items. That still excludes the donation barrels, which will be out through Friday at Riverview Bank branches, Les Schwab tire centers, both Cost Less Auto Parts stores, and many other locations.

“We’re grateful for the support from the good people of Clark County, and especially thrilled to see so many young people out helping collect and pack donations,” Knappenberger said.

Organized chaos

Though the drop-off process at Hudson’s Bay featured its fair share of spills and hiccups, Janet Elliott wasn’t fazed, managing each and every stage of the assembly line with precision.

Elliott, a Walk & Knock sector coordinator and retired Hudson’s Bay teacher, said Saturday’s campaign felt reminiscent of what she was used to seeing in 2019 and before.

“I don’t know if we’ll get the poundage we’ve had in the past, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see,” Elliott said in between shouting instructions to a group loading a semitruck.

Regardless, she felt inspired by the energy her group was putting on display.

“What I really feel good about is that we’re supporting families in need. In down economic times, we see this spirit of giving come alive,” Elliott said. “We just need to keep on going!”

Doing a huge portion of the work at Hudson’s Bay on Saturday were students from groups like the Key Club and the National Honor Society. Trevor Cashmore, the Key Club adviser at Hudson’s Bay, said he wasn’t surprised to see so many of his students volunteering their weekend for the cause.

“I don’t even feel like I had to do much to get the kids’ interest,” Cashmore said. “There’s this communal spirit. It’s heartwarming. Students want to be here for this.”

Jake Carlson, Hudson’s Bay’s National Honors Society adviser, concurred.

“We’ve got students here today taking practice AP exams and heading on downstairs to pack boxes right after,” Carlson said. “Our school has kids that will benefit from this (food drive). You’re seeing students helping out each other, even if they don’t know it.”