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Students make big impact on community

Tualatin High School students support Tualatin School House Pantry by volunteering time and efforts

Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Evan Marx, a sophomore at Tualatin High School and a board member at Tualatin School House Pantry, faces the soup aisle at the pantry, located in the basement of Rolling Hills Community Church.Families sat waiting patiently, shopping the shelves, putting items in carts, chatting with volunteers.

One girl, alone with her hot pink hoodie and long pony tail, nervously walked through Tualatin School House Pantry's doors. She didn’t seem to know where to go or what to do, but such is the first day of anything.

It wasn’t long before Evelyn Gonzalez, a Tualatin High School freshman and Key Club member, was spotted by program coordinator Tracy Smith and given an assignment. The Pantry reserves time slots for local groups to volunteer each week, and TuHS Key Club gets a couple hours the third Monday of every month. This week, seven eager students arrived after school to help, but Gonzalez was the first.

“I wanted to help out and do community service,” the 14-year-old said through a shy smile, her voice barely above a whisper. “My family has come here before to get food from here. I can give back to the people who helped my family.”

Gonzalez was putting together birthday bags, complete with frosting, sprinkles, cake mix and party supplies. The bags will go to families who otherwise might not be able to provide their children with the classic necessities that come along with birthdays. Her first time volunteering for the Pantry, and one of her first volunteer opportunities with Key Club in general, Gonzalez said she was excited to continue giving her time to the Pantry in the future. She said that eventually, she even hopes to bring her younger sister along with her, as well.Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Evelyn Gonzalez, a freshman at Tualatin High School and a member of the Key Club, fills birthday bags for families in need at the Tualatin Food Pantry.

“Usually, the adult volunteers we have are people who volunteer because they’ve gotten help from a food bank in the past, or did so as a kid, liked it and wanted to come back,” Smith said. “If we can get (the students) to see how fun and rewarding it is, then maybe they will want to donate and volunteer in the future.”

Though not a member of Key Club, another TuHS student, Evan Marx, has been extremely involved with the Pantry for the past three years. It started as a family affair with his mom’s encouragement, and before long, Marx, his sister and their mother were volunteering at the Pantry at least once a month. Then, in September, the 15-year-old sophomore was asked to be the student member of the organization’s board.

“It’s really exciting. I was really honored that they asked me. They said it was because they loved that I was always here and working hard, and they thought I would be a great fit for that position,” Marx said. “Not many people know about (the Pantry). And that’s kind of my goal as a student board member, is to get that out there and get more people in and volunteering.”

So far, he hasn’t been able to do much as he just came off of a varsity cross country season, but Marx is excited to promote and support the Pantry at the high school going forward. TuHS’s food drive every spring is four times larger than any other drive for the Pantry, said Smith, and the hope is that with Marx’s help, this pattern will continue.

“The students have by far the largest food drive, so they have one of the largest impacts on the food pantry through their volunteers and donations,” Smith said. “So we wanted them to have a voice on the board and show that we value their impact and involvement, that it’s valued just as much as the time given by the adults.”

Marx is the second student board member who’s been appointed, replacing the first who graduated in the spring. His term will run at least until next September, and he plans to continue volunteering just as he always has in the meantime.

“I think it’s important, because a lot of people don’t realize or don’t know what’s going on here, and they get that kind of flash of reality. It’s good to give back. I hate to be cliché, but it is true,” Marx said. “People, no matter what situation they’re in, they’re always friendly and they always have a smile on their face. The people who come in here are always nice, and I love that. It’s a great community.”

By the numbers

Tualatin School House Pantry stats for 2013:

• 1,919 families came for food between 1 and 12 times.

• 712,356 pounds of food came to the Pantry through food drives, food donations, monetary donations and harvest share events.

• Tualatin High School donated approximately 40,000 pounds of food (including what was purchased with monetary donations), larger than any other single donation the Pantry received.

To find out how you can help and what to donate, visit

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