CU Impact: Advantis Credit Union Helps Feed Portland’s Year-round Hunger Need

Other Portland-area credit unions also are invited to help the Police Bureau’s Sunshine Division solve the problem.

1/2/18

On a frigid night in December, volunteers gathered in a Portland warehouse waiting to fill boxes with 20-pound turkeys, soup, flour, potatoes, carrots, and other sustenance to feed thousands of local families. For those on the receiving end of the assembly line, it meant they could both pay the rent and eat that month. For those on the giving end, it’s a years’ long tradition.

The Portland Police Bureau’s Sunshine Division has been providing food and emergency clothing to local residents for nearly 100 years, and Advantis Credit Union has been on the front lines with Sunshine for 30 of those years.

“Credit unions are unique and wonderful in that we come together around the cooperative principles that we believe in, and pretty much universally credit unions believe in giving back to the community,” said Wendy Edwards, Advantis CU’s Chief Administrative Officer.

Working furiously to put cans of soup into boxes rapidly moving down the line was Gina Dines, Advantis’ Fremont Branch Manager.

“Credit unions are really a big family themselves,” Dines said. “To come out and help other families, it just seems natural.”

The extent of Portland’s hunger problem may surprise visitors, who see a mostly clean, contemporary city. A construction boom is underway and million-dollar condos are on the rise. And that’s exactly the problem—if you’re hungry.

“Since 1990, approximately 200,000 people have moved into Portland, and almost a million have moved to the metro area,” said Kyle Camberg, Sunshine Division’s Executive Director. He said families’ incomes are not keeping up with large increases in rent and healthcare. “People who are working or who are retired are simply getting squeezed.”

From his squad car, Officer Matt Tobey sees the need every day.

“It’s a gift to be able to help 3,500 families at Christmas,” said Tobey.

He got choked up telling the story of a local woman who just inherited custody of six grandchildren. She turned to Sunshine Division when she realized she could not feed them all herself. Being part of Sunshine’s mission, he says, “allows us to take a bad situation a family may be in and give them a little bit of light, a little bit of hope.”

“We couldn’t do this without the volunteers, without the food donors, and Advantis has been a huge part of that for 30 years,” Camberg added.

Edwards sees an opportunity for other Portland metro-area credit unions to be part of Sunshine’s mission.

“One way credit unions can support the Sunshine Division and involve their members is to conduct food drives in their branches and through their contact center at any time of year,” said Edwards. “Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Advantis asked members if they would like to help fight local hunger by buying tuna, and this year we raised $9,300.”

Editor’s note: Interested credit unions can contact Edwards directly by emailing wedwards@advantiscu.org or Sunshine Division Executive Director Kyle Camberg by emailing kyle@sunshinedivison.org.