▶️ OSU-Cascades students, community members give back on MLK Day of Service

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Books…furniture…clothes. 

It was all sorted by hand on Monday at the Humane Society of Central Oregon Thrift Store. 

Eighteen volunteers, made up of students from OSU-Cascades and other central Oregon community members, decided to use this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service to give back. 

“We reached out to several different places, some of them didn’t get back to me,” said OSU Events Coordinator and sophomore Isabella Crews, “But the Humane Society was super welcoming and friendly, and they got back to me very quickly.”

The holiday was passed by Congress in 1994 to honor the late figure, known for his contribution to the civil rights movement, and to continue his legacy of public service. 

“I think one of the best ways to help a community or help the world is to start small and help your own community, and I wanted to share that with my fellow students and encourage them and provide a place for them to volunteer as well,” Crews added. 

Volunteers were divided into two-hour shifts at both the thrift store and the animal shelter. 

Elena Strahm from Portland took the day to volunteer at the thrift store while visiting her mom, who lives in Sisters. 

“I’ve wanted to bring my son volunteering for a really long time but we just get caught up in life, you know? So the fact that we don’t work today or have school was a really good opportunity to give back,” she said. 

Her 8-year-old son, James, said his favorite part about volunteering was “chucking the bags in the cardboard bin.” 

“I love to volunteer…I just like to help people,” he said. 

For some volunteers, it wasn’t a first. 

“I had a professional career my whole life, and now I’m very fortunate to be retired in Bend, and we love to do any volunteer jobs that we can,” said volunteer Liz Rachum. “We’re big animal lovers here, so that’s why we support the Humane Society.” 

Everything they sorted will end up downstairs in the thrift store, where it will be sold to benefit some of central Oregon’s smallest and fluffiest community members. 

“People don’t realize that when people donate gently used items to our thrift store, they get sorted and they get sold, and about a third of our revenue is generated by the sales from our thrift store,” said Lynne Ouchida, Community Outreach Manager for the Humane Society of Central Oregon. 

“So donating and shopping at the thrift store has an immediate impact on helping us to save lives.” 

Four students also volunteered at the shelter itself, where they helped organize the storage room. 

“OSU-Cascades students have come out for a few years in a row so…it’s nice to have a relationship with an organization. They know the types of jobs here at the shelter as well as at the thrift store, and they’re usually animal lovers, and they want to give back to help those animals in need,” Ouchida added. 

Sorting clothes, saving lives, and spreading positivity were the main objectives of the day. 

Ouchida said that donations had also been pouring in online and in person in honor of Betty White’s 100th birthday, which would have been the 17th. 

For more information on volunteering with the Humane Society, visit hsco.org

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