The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

Prospecting club donates $5,500 to Kids Food Pak program


January 3, 2018

JUDY MARKERT, treasurer, presents a donation of $5,500 on behalf of the East Linn Treasure Seekers to Andee McCubbins for the Kids Food Pak program.

The East Linn Treasure Seekers finished off 2017 with a $5,500 donation to the Kids Food Pak program.

All of the group's activities that raise funds are dedicated to helping pay for the Food Pak program, said secretary Rita Houston, owner of the now-closed Rita's Relics prospecting supplies and antiques store.

The Food Pak program is assisting 87 children this year, said organizer Kandy Elliott. Each weekend, children take home backpacks filled with food for two breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners.

The East Linn Treasure Seekers is a group of metal detector enthusiasts who hold regular events and outings, including camping trips around the state. It has a membership of about 50.

Five years ago when the Treasure Seekers formed, the board looked at different charitable organizations it could support and settled on the Food Pak program because it is entirely supported by private donations, Houston said. The first year, the Treasure Seekers were able to donate $1,000. That number has grown in the intervening years, reaching $5,500 this year.

The Treasure Seekers presented their donation to the Food Pak program on Dec. 20.

"It's really awesome," Elliott said. "It really helps our program to get stuff like that."

The program costs $40 to $45 per child per month, Elliott said. During September, Sweet Home School District counselors identify students in need, and beginning in October, the Food Pak program begins distributing food to those children. The program continues until school ends in June.

Total, the program will need about $35,000 through the current school year.

"There are kids out there who may have circumstances – they just need that little extra help on the weekend to make sure little Johnny gets fed," Elliott said. The children's families may be homeless, very low-income or struggling to make ends meet.

Food Pak volunteers purchase food through the Linn-Benton Food Bank and at grocery stores. The Fair Share Gleaners donate bread and snacks.

Elliott said she likes to make sure children have variety in their menus throughout the month.

Food Pak volunteers were able to give a gift to each child in the program for Christmas this year, Elliott said. Younger children each received a fleece throw or a donated homemade afghan or quilt. Older children were given crossword puzzles, candy canes and hot chocolate.

"We really want to help keep the word out there about them," Houston said. "We certainly can't help everyone, but at least we're helping some of them."

The Treasure Seekers' biggest event is a silver hunt held annually in the Sweet Home area, said Houston, who owned and operated Oregon Prospecting and Rita's Relics in Sweet Home. While she has since moved to Reedsport and continues to operate Oregon Prospecting, she continues to return to Sweet Home monthly for Treasure Seekers activities.

"We've made some very good friends in Sweet Home," Houston said. "I'm glad we have this connection to keep us coming back."

Through its events and raffles, supplied by "fantastic" businesses from Sweet Home to Albany, Houston said, "everything we make goes into this program."

The group holds a meeting every month, "which is fun," Houston said. "We do an outing every single month."

All of those outings are day trips, she said. Two to three times a year, the club hosts a camping excursion beyond a day's drive, typically to central and eastern Oregon or to the coast.

"We're big-time relic hunters," Houston said, and the members enjoy helping others who are new to metal detecting.

"We bring people in and teach them the right way," Houston said. The group often hunts on private property with permission, and they do it with the intent of leaving no trace, carefully moving aside grass, digging and then replacing the grass, for example.

The club also fields many calls from people who have lost something, like a ring, and helps them try to locate the item, Houston said.

For information about the East Linn Treasure Seekers, call Houston at (451) 401-3197. The club also may be found on Facebook as East Linn Treasure Seekers - ELTS.

Community Chapel at Ames Creek handles the finances for the Food Pak program, Elliott said. Donations of food or cash may be dropped at Community Chapel, 42250 Ames Creek Road. The church may be reached at (541) 367-5106.

Donations also may be dropped off with volunteers in the basement of the Hope Center at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays when the volunteers are preparing Food Paks. The entrance is located in the back of the building.


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