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Forest Ridge hosts food drive with Neighbor Link help

Youth volunteers participate in a food drive for people and pets in the Forest Ridge community on June 26. - Julie Ellenhorn
Youth volunteers participate in a food drive for people and pets in the Forest Ridge community on June 26.
— image credit: Julie Ellenhorn

One of the largest neighborhood food drives expected for Bellevue this year took place last Saturday at Forest Glen Park.

The event brought in around 700 pounds of human food – almost double the amount from last year – and several hundred pounds of pet food, as well as numerous pet essentials.

Donations went to Renewal Food Bank and Seattle Humane Society.

Synneva Wang organized the event on behalf of the Forest Ridge community, hoping to draw residents from all neighborhoods along Forest Drive.

Neighbor Link provided assistance for the project. The city-sponsored program, now in its second year, helps individuals and groups plan community-service projects, identify resources, and mobilize support.

The city gives each group a "Party-in-a-Box" to help celebrate their achievements. The boxes contain 50 burritos apiece from Chipotle, party banners, and decorations.

Neighbor Link participants are also invited to attend a city-sponsored celebration on Sept. 11, from noon until 2 p.m., on the lawn at City Hall.

Wang's project was a success, but community service appears to be waning overall since last year, when the recession was fresh in everyone's mind.

Fourteen groups have signed up to organize projects through Neighbor Link this year. That's down from last year, when 23 neighborhoods developed 37 projects.

"It's not quite as strong as it was last year, but there's still lots of time to get involved," said Julie Ellenhorn, neighborhood outreach coordinator for the city of Bellevue.

Ellenhorn says the level of involvement may be down because people are growing accustomed to the prolonged recession, and there's not as much awareness about growing needs.

"It's lost some of the hype of last year," she said.

Still, the need is there.

Rich Bowen, director of the Renewal Food Bank in Bellevue, says his organization has seen a 25-percent increase in monthly visitors since March 2009. Between 800 and 900 families now use his facility each month.

The Holy Cross Lutheran Church near Factoria has been doing its part to address that rise in need. The church, which works with Neighbor Link, has harvested nearly 100 pounds of food in the past month through a pea-patch garden.

Nine more community food drives will take place with help from Neighbor Link this summer. The events occur at:

• Monthaven – May 8

• Forest Ridge Estates – June 26

• Mockingbird Hill – July 3

• Newport Hills – July 3

• Newport Shores – July 4

• Whispering Heights – July 4

• Collingwood – July 4

• Crofton – July 24

• Lakemont Highlands – Sept. 19

Individuals and groups interested in organizing their own community-service projects through Neighbor Link can contact Ellenhorn at 425-452-5372 or jellenhorn@bellevuewa.gov.

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