This post is authored by Michelle DeFord.
I remember waking up on November 9th, and I was mad as hell. I had already scheduled an appointment with Taylor, the fundraising coordinator from IRCO (Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization), the week before. During the month of December, I have previously tried to adopt a family or a cause; after asking Twitter for suggestions, a friend suggested IRCO. It seemed like such a good idea at the time. I was born and raised here. This is my hometown. I feel team, town, TA to my core, because it is my core. I love Portland so much, and I want other people to love Portland and know that Portland loves them as well, especially in the social climate that this election has made more visible.
Taylor showed me around the facility on NE Glisan one afternoon. We settled down into a room, and I had to ask, "How can we help?"
She explained to me that a lot of the families vary in size and ethnicity. She told me about a family of 25 from the Congo. She told me about a single mother of three from Afghanistan who wants to start a business as a basket weaver. I remember hearing all these stories and thinking that this was the perfect project for the Riveters and the TA. I have never had a bigger group of friends from all over the world than I do now as a 107ist. This seemed like an amazing organization to start a lasting relationship with.
Taylor went through the various drives they had previously had. The items the people mostly needed were items they could not buy with their state assistance. A lot of the time, this boils down to items like paper towels, soaps, shampoos, toilet paper, diapers, feminine hygiene products, and other personal items.
At the Green Weekend sale, between No Pity Originals and the Riveters Merch Crew, the 107ist was able to raise over $800 and a van full of donations, which were dropped off at the IRCO office the morning of December 5th.
After the Riveters and Timbers Army holiday parties, we had over $1,300 from raffles and various online donations. On December 18th, Rachel Harrison, Ray Terrill, Nate Moe, his wife Sarah, and their son, all headed to Costco to stock up on supplies. We managed to fill three flatbed carts and two large carts. After three loads back to the tifo warehouse and leaving Rachel at Costco (sorry Rachel), we managed to have a huge pile of goods to deliver to IRCO.
We had one more job we had to do.
Taylor had mentioned that a lot of the clients were African, and asked us to keep that in mind when buying hair supplies. I knew we had to go to MidK and pick up some proper hair stuff.
Ray, Rachel, and I really had no idea what kind of products we were looking for. The woman who helped us was awesome. She asked what we were looking for and we all were very upfront that we had no idea what to buy. She asked about the families, and I mentioned the one from the Congo. She told us her boyfriend was from the Congo, and she was happy to get to help us - she even stuffed my backpack full of free samples. She ended up picking out a lot of different things for us for all types of hair.
On Monday, December 19th, our delivery was much bigger than the first. We were able to fill a hallway with stuff purchased with donations and donated by 107IST. The staff helped us move the donations in to the building and sort things. It always felt silly yelling what we were collecting across the chilly tifo warehouse, or at the holiday parties, but seeing the look on the faces of the staff when they realized how much stuff we were delivering really made an impact on me. It's not silly, at all. These are items that these people really need, and they are so appreciative that we were giving all of this stuff to them.
You can still help. Boxes will be around until New Year's Eve, and are placed across Portland, at: Kells downtown, Café Town in the Lloyd Center Tower building, Rose City Futsal in Northeast Portland, the Fanladen during office hours, and donations are still being collected online at https://timbersarmy.org/107ist/donate - Make sure to select the IRCO Relief Fund.
Let's make our next donation even bigger.