Where Salemites can serve those in need this winter

Salem-area residents have plenty of opportunities over Thanksgiving and beyond to lend a helping hand and spread some cheer in the community.

United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley is collecting pajamas for its 10th annual pajama drive. Recipients include the Oregon Foster Parent Association’s Project Joy, Taylor’s House, Salem’s new YMCA, Safe Sleep and Seed of Faith Ministries. The nonprofit also has an Amazon wishlist for needed items. Donations will be accepted through Nov. 30 at locations around the Salem area, including the downtown YMCA, Cherriots, the Grand Hotel, South Town Glass, ACE Hardware, Pentacle Theatre and Kaiser Permanente clinics at Skyline, North Lancaster and Keizer Station. Donations after Nov. 30 can be dropped at the United Way office, 455 Bliler Ave. N.E.

The Marion Polk Food Share accepts shelf-stable food donations at its warehouse, 1660 Salem Industrial Drive N.E., as do most of its partner pantries. A list of pantries and their hours is available online, and the Food Share recommends calling pantries first to confirm they can accept the donation. Non-perishable food can be dropped off at donation barrels around the Salem area, and people can email [email protected] to find the nearest one to them.  

The Keizer Miracle of Christmas Holiday Lights Display also benefits the food share with a drive that accepts shelf-stable food and financial donations, with each dollar donated providing three meals. The light display will be up from Dec. 2-26, beginning in the Gubser neighborhood at Northeast Lockhaven Drive and 14th Avenue in Keizer.

The Food Share has “a marked need” for drivers to deliver Meals on Wheels to home-bound seniors and adults with disabilities in Salem and Keizer, according to spokesman Sam Tenney. The program has seen significant growth since the start of the Covid pandemic, and now serves 800 seniors daily. Volunteers would commit a couple of hours a week to the program, and those interested in volunteering for holiday activities can contact (503) 581-3855 or [email protected]. You can also help pack and sort items at the Food Share’s warehouse.

Homeless service provider The ARCHES Project is in urgent need of volunteers to help run overnight emergency shelters to keep people off the streets during cold nights. When night temperatures drop to 32 or below, ARCHES will transport people by van to one of two emergency shelters through March 31. More than a dozen volunteers are required each night shelters are open. Volunteers check guests in and out of shelters, serve food and beverages in their hospitality areas and help with keeping the facilities clean. ARCHES also has a warming fund where people can donate money to help run the program.

Windermere Real Estate is working with local nonprofits to collect donations of coats, blankets, hats, mittens and socks of all sizes this winter season, with a list of drop-off locations available online. The donations can also be dropped off at the Homeless Outreach and Advocacy Project, 4285 Commercial St. S.E., Suite 100 (office open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) or Be Bold Ministries, 960 Liberty St. S.E. #250 (office open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

Free Fridge Salem offers refrigerators and pantries stocked with free food in open areas around the city, as well as twice-weekly Soup Squad serving meals at Wallace Marine and Marion Square parks. People interested in volunteering can sign up online and schedule a date to pack or deliver bins of the food to those locations, or to make hot food for Soup Squad. Check the Free Fridge Salem Instagram for current information about events and needs.

Homeless service provider Church at the Park offers a sign-up sheet to donate gifts such as clothes and blankets, which have to be dropped off at a donation collection site by Dec. 18. You can also sign up to deliver 40 pre-packaged craft or activity bags for kids living with their guardians at the nonprofit’s micro shelter location at 3749 Portland Road N.E.

The 36th Annual Salem Police Department Toy Drive on Monday began accepting new and unwrapped toys for children up to 14 years old. Toys can be dropped off until Dec. 12 at the Salem Police Station, 333 Division St. N.E., or at toy collection sites listed in a department Facebook post.

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

JUST THE FACTS, FOR SALEM – We report on your community with care and depth, fairness and accuracy. Get local news that matters to you. Subscribe to Salem Reporter. Click I want to subscribe!

Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.