La Pine Food Basket program celebrates 10 years

More than 24,000 people have been fed

Police, partners feed needy

BEND, Ore. - It's been 10 years since the La Pine Food Basket Program started after Deschutes County Sheriff Larry Blanton saw a need.

It's a partnership between the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office and The Riverhouse hotel in Bend, along with other partners

A few days before Christmas, sheriff's deputies and Bend police arrived at The Riverhouse to help load food donations from the hotel and other suppliers to give to families in la pine and bend.

Wayne Purcell, managing partner at The Riverhouse, says it's good to step back and think about what the impact would be if it this didn't happen.

A decade ago, Blanton called Purcell to ask to help feed families at Christmas time.

"You look back and it doesn't seem like 10 years, certainly," Purcell said. "But to think that over a 10-year time we've been able to provide enough food for about 24,000 people -- that's a pretty big impact."

And for at least one day, Central Oregon families can have a great dinner.

"It makes you feel good that a head of household isn't going to have to look at their kids and say 'I know their friends are having a good dinner, but we are not able to do that',"said Purcell.

It's a partnership between the hotel and the sheriff's office that has worked together to share duties in getting food to the right people.

"We can provide the food that they know who needs to get the meals most," Purcell said. "And they are the ones that do a great job of identifying those people and making sure that they get it."

A few days before Christmas, the two groups along with Bend Police will load more than 6,000 pounds of food including potatoes, apple pie, green beans and corn provided by the hotel.

While turkeys will be provided by the La Pine Christmas Basket Association, all equaling more than 500 complete holiday meals.

The agencies rely heavily on the help of food suppliers and donations from Sysco Foods, Diageo Wine, Precept Wine, Big Sky Brewery and ODOM Southern Distributing.

"In the police business, we tend to deal with the negative aspects of life and things that happen to people, rather than us trying to be a positive influence," Blanton said.

Purcell says it's good to step back and think about what the impact would be if it this didn't happen.

"If Larry wouldn't have picked up the phone and made the phone call, you would have 76,000 pounds of food that wouldn't have been distributed," Purcell said. "You would have 24,000 people that wouldn't have gotten a meal."

Purcell and Blanton are long-time residents; both were graduates of Bend High School in 1975.

Both say the program fits their philosophy: Give back more to the community than you take.

"The real story here is for the people who enjoy this community as much as we do is to patronize the businesses that give year in and year out," Blanton said in regards to The Riverhouse.

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