Food bank breaks ground for expansion

Rainy weather didn't keep volunteers and friends of Mount Si Helping Hand Food Bank from celebrating the start of construction of a new 500-square-foot expansion to the currently crowded and small community service building.

Food Bank Director Gail Gergasko, North Bend Mayor Ken Hearing and Preston Baptist Church Pastor Roy Peacock hefted shovels in a ground-breaking ceremony on Thursday, March 13, at the food bank, located next to North Bend Community Church at 116 E. Third St. in North Bend.

Steve Fenton performed a flag ceremony, and Peacock gave an invocation, noting that "this place is extending love and service to many people, week after week."

Helping Hand Food Bank was founded by the Snoqualmie Valley Ministerial Association in 1972, and has grown ever since. Currently, more than 250 families are helped each week by the food bank, which distributes more than 10,000 pounds of food in a week's time. The expansion will be Helping Hand's first.

"We're very excited about the groundbreaking of the addition," said food bank volunteer Ron Braley. "It'll help alleviate a lot of the congestion and provide a more secure, well-lit environment for our patrons and all of the volunteers."

"The expansion will be wonderful, because we'll have more space," said volunteer Margaret Shea, who works eight days a month at the food bank. "It's very crowded. The biggest thing is, we move stuff back and forth, back and forth."

While the food bank expansion is expected to be complete in about five weeks, the campaign for funding continues. About half of the needed $90,000 has been raised.

Members of the Snoqualmie Valley Rotary donated $1,000 to the food bank campaign at the ground-breaking event. Other financial contributors included the cities of North Bend and Snoqualmie, the Church on the Ridge, Boeing, Fred Meyer, and a number of unnamed individuals.

"The food bank is catering to that real basic need of hunger," said Hearing. "It''s a good thing to have you here. If you see somebody out there that's living on a real fixed income, you can bet that they're living in hunger too. Be aware of that."

* To help in the expansion campaign, contact Mount Si Helping Hand Food Bank Coordinator Gail Gergasko at (425) 888-0096. Donations can be sent to P.O. Box 2464, North Bend, WA 98045.

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