CenturyLink's matching grant contributes $270K of total; 330,000 pounds of food also collected for local families

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - CenturyLink presents Marion-Polk Food Share with $268,863 to match the results of the Backpack Buddies Feed the Children Food Drive. Pictured in the front row, from left, are Rick Gaupo, CEO of Marion-Polk Food Share; Marley Niemi, CenturyLink; Adam Kohler, CenturyLink; Chris Denzin, CenturyLink; and David Bickle, CenturyLink. The communities of Marion and Polk counties made history last month, leading the charge during the CenturyLink Backpack Buddies Feed the Children Food Drive, which collected food and cash donations June 2-13.

According to a press release from Marion-Polk Food Share, a significant percentage of the 666,000 total pounds of food and $767,219 raised nationally during the drive originated locally.

Specifically, 330,000 pounds of food and $180,671 were collected from the area served by Marion-Polk Food Share.

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Rick Gaupo, left, CEO of Marion-Polk Food Share, reacts as CenturyLink's Chris Denzin announces the results of the food drive during an event earlier this month.“The generosity shown during this campaign was extraordinary,” Rick Gaupo, president and CEO of Marion-Polk Food Share, said in the release. “We were overwhelmed by the tremendous response of our neighbors to help local families in need.”

CenturyLink, a multinational communications company headquartered in Monroe, La., sponsored the drive and agreed to match every dollar donated with $1.14.

Thanks to the match, CenturyLink contributed an additional $268,863 to Marion-Polk Food Share, for a total contribution of nearly $450,000 collected during the two-week drive.

CenturyLink’s Clarke M. Williams Foundation contributed a total of $1 million in matching funds to the drive, with Marion-Polk Food Share receiving almost 27 percent.

The donations raised during the drive were a mix of large contributions, such as a $110,000 gift from the Salem-based Mountain West Investment Corporation, to $1 donations handed to CenturyLink employees during a “Fill the Hard Hat” effort.

Gaupo said the campaign was especially helpful as it came during a season that tends to be a leaner time for donations to the food share network, which includes the AWARE Food Bank in Woodburn.

“The support we received from the community in June provided food for families who struggle to feed their children when school is out,” Gaupo said. “The CenturyLink matching donation came at the beginning of our fiscal year, which is a tremendous way to start the year.”

Gaupo said his organization is now assessing how best to put the donation to work to meet the community’s needs.

“We are always looking to provide more food for those struggling with hunger, including children and seniors,”?Gaupo said. “We are also considering how we can further address root causes of hunger, including growing our farms and gardens program and expanding our vocational training programs, among other things.”

According to the Food Share, one in five families in Oregon rely on food banks to stave off hunger. The Food Share’s network of 99 pantries and meal sites currently serves over 40,000 people each month, including over 16,000 children.

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Tyler Francke covers all things Woodburn. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-765-1195.

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