—by Nicholas “Nicky Buttons” Downing
When I root, I root for the Timbers. A lot of the time, the rooting is done from home. I don't have a season ticket; I can't afford a ticket every time. I love my town, I love my team, I love the Timbers Army. I knew there were people in my exact situation I could enjoy these things I love with. I decided to get them together: let's watch a match. I had heard about and seen regional subgroups, but didn't know all the details. A long time ago some Eastside fans got together, watched some matches, made a scarf, and called it Eastern Bloc, never to be more than a few friends gathering to watch soccer. I simply just rehashed this concept. It was simple: if you live around the area and want to watch the match with some other fans in the area, come on down. Even if you don't live in the area, we'd love to have you. All we ask is you cheer as loud as you can.
After a few away days, more and more people started to show up, everyone being the fans this team deserves: loud, feverish, and, most importantly, loyal. This attitude spread over the entire group. We were there for each other, we were there for the community, we were there for the team. All of us, together, under the Timbers Army umbrella. Donating dues, buying charity scarves, volunteering with tifo, participation in the Heart Walk and Oregon Food Bank opportunities. Any chance of bettering the community was taken. When your ethics exceed limitations, you take matters into your own hands.
With more and more families in our community going hungry, we had to do something about it. No one should go without food. With all the things that Timbers Army takes care of, I thought hunger was far more important than large paintings or more soccer fields. Children need to eat. As a child whose family received food from a local bank, I took this very personally. I've made it to a point in my life where I can feed myself; it was time to use my resources and willpower to feed every family I possibly could.
An APB was put out to anyone coming to an Eastern Bloc viewing party, and it was only two words: bring food. People did, in a way I never thought would happen. Hundreds and hundreds of pounds of cans, pasta noodles, anything nonperishable, weighing down the trunks of our cars. Every match, more people came and brought more food. That's when the games really began.
Timbers Army: Covert Ops, the regional subgroup in the Seattle area, decided to get in on the action. A friendly wager was made with Eastern Bloc stating whichever group collected the most food by season's end would be declared the winner, with the failing side creating a celebratory two-stick display glorifying the victors. The Cold Food War was underway. As there are no rules in war, Eastern Bloc reached out for assistance, forming a pact. Almost all the regional subgroups in Oregon and Washington came out of the woodwork to aid the effort. Jefferson Reserves, Echo Squadron, Mt. Bachelor Brigade, Northern Alliance, Sunset Division, and Mid-Valley Platoon (MVP) stepped up. They collected food at their viewing parties, adding to the steadily increasing pound total being donated to hungry people. By mid-season, I was almost speechless by everyone going so far above and beyond. By this time communication with the Oregon Food Bank was consistent. They shared with us that a donation of only a few dollars could go much further than some cans of food.
A challenge coin was issued to anyone wanting to participate, a patch was made, and several generous donations collected more money than we'd ever thought. All for pure donation, money that would feed family after family. By the end of the season, from all groups combined, there were 3,263 pounds of food donated. Somehow the ragtag groups of Timbers Army gathered over a ton of food. With all monetary donations collected, a fellow Eastern Blochead suggested the company they worked for could double that, which they in fact did. A check was made out to Oregon Food Bank for $8,941. From a simple desire to gather to watch soccer came that much food, that much money, and that much human spirit.
Eastern Bloc is proud to be a regional subgroup supporting team, town, and TA. We would like to continue going above and beyond for all of the Timbers Army. We're all people, together in this community. We love soccer, we love to help people, we love to chant and cheer. Negativity holds no value here.
In 2016 the Timbers Army regional subgroups together fed more people than can fit in Providence Park, twice. Expect to see something even more remarkable in 2017.
Swear like we do.