Adventists Give Away...School Supplies
by Tim Curran, Mid-County Memo reporter

This story was originally reported in the Mid-County Memo. Reprinted with permission by the Mid-County Memo. All photos credited to Mid-County Memo/Tim Curran.

What began in 2011 as a modest school supplies give-away held in the parking lot of the RoC (Rose City) Fellowship at Oregon Central Korean Seventh-day Adventist Church has grown into last month's large public-service event. Relocated to the parking lot of Portland Adventist Community Services in Gateway, RoC Fellowship members donated the supplies and more than 60 volunteers at the event, said Daniel Park, the English language Pastor at the church.

New this year, church members are providing on-site dental services. Last year they added medical care at the event. “We're lucky to have so many medical professionals who belong to the church,” said parishioner and dentist John Chung, who was volunteering his services.

Last year, according to event coordinator Bonnie Song, parishioners distributed about $8,000 worth of donated school supplies to more than 200 children.

Stacey Robertson, who lives in southeast Portland, said her aunt, who lives near PACS in Gateway told her about the event, so she brought her eight-year-old son Kenai and neighbor Jimmy Hughes to get needed school supplies. “This is a really nice thing they're doing,” Robertson said. Asked if they got what they needed for school after receiving supplies and while waiting in line for a snocone, they both smilingly replied, “Yep, I sure did.” Located in east Portland since 2000, the church has an enrollment of about 300; services conducted in Korean and English are attended by about 150 church members each, according to Park.

At 12707 N.E. San Rafael St. in the Russell neighborhood, the church is in a part of east Portland where every school district has more than seven of 10 children on free or reduced-price lunches.

Park said they are ready to expand the work as the need arises. “If we see more need, we'll reach out to the corporations for help; I think next year we will for sure.”

Park said their ultimate mission is spiritual. “What's amazing for us in the context of church is that we get to pray with a lot of people and we can see their lives changing through our prayers. People are getting jobs. We pray for them, and they find jobs. We pray for them, and their children are healed.” He added, “I think our school supply giveaway is more than giving school supplies to our local community members. We actually want to heal them spiritually, so that's our ultimate purpose."

Because it outgrew the church parking lot, last month, RoC (Rose City) Fellowship volunteers at Oregon Central Korean Seventh-day Adventist Church moved their annual school supplies giveaway to Portland Adventist Community Services in Gateway. For the school year, an RoC fellowship member and volunteer helps a student choose a backpack.