Palouse Cares holds food drive and auctions

From staff reports

Marching door to door, hundreds of volunteers will gather donations for the largest food drive in the Palouse.

Officially founded as a non-profit organization in 2006, Palouse Cares will host its 11th annual food drive and auctions. Palouse Cares was founded by now board president Rick Minard, and began in the 1990s as a group of family and friends donating to the food bank every year. From there, it grew into a food drive with anywhere from 200 to 400 volunteers collecting donations from the Palouse area.

The high poverty level in Whitman County accounts for the great need in food donations. About 20 new families every month start going to food banks for a little help, Minard said.

On the first Saturday of every December, volunteers walk through various neighborhoods, knocking on doors to collect items for the food drive. Pullman and Moscow, as well as smaller towns such as Colfax or Uniontown in Whitman County make up the areas covered in the drive.

“We map out the towns,” Minard said. “It’s really military-style, because we tell the volunteers what houses to go to, give them bags and tell them what to say.”

Volunteers typically finish their routes in ninety minutes and then return to the set meeting place where they began, Minard said. From there, the collected donations go to the local food bank. High-protein foods, such as peanut butter, chili and tuna for example, make wonderful donations, Minard said. Toiletries are also greatly needed as well.

Silent and live auctions will also take place Saturday afternoon, featuring items donated from the community and local businesses. The auctions feature a little bit of everything, Minard said. In the past, prizes have ranged from gift certificates to getaway packages. Proceeds gathered from the auctions will go to the food bank as well.

Doors open for the auctions at 11 a.m. at Real Life, Eastside Marketplace in Moscow and Zeppoz in Pullman. The live auctions will begin at noon and 1 p.m., respectively. Residents and students can still volunteer tomorrow by contacting by signing up at the Palouse Cares website.

Reporting by Nina Willis