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Community Champions - Volunteer ‘Trucks’ On For A Good Cause

Food For All 260,000 pounds strong

John Cruickshank has volunteered his truck for Food For All for more than 10 years.

John Cruickshank has volunteered his truck for Food For All for more than 10 years. Photo by Jolene Guzman.

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Perrydale students repack potatoes into family-sized portions at the school on Thursday. Each family receives about 40 pounds of fresh produce.

PERRYDALE — Food For All, Perrydale FFA’s annual holiday food collection, only works because of coordination of many moving parts.

A few of those parts have 18 wheels and a trailer.

John Cruickshank has, for more than 10 years, volunteered his time and semitruck to help the critical and growing program with moving donated food from farmer or processor to where it is packaged to given to those in need.

Cruickshank, also a Perrydale School Board member and graduate of the school, said he doesn’t have the time to volunteer in classrooms, so this is his way of helping out a program that teaches so many important lessons.

“My goal is to try to give back to the school as much as I can,” he said.

When the final tally is made, Food For All will have collected and distributed about 260,000 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables to families and food banks from Polk County to Coos Bay to Union.

Food For All does more than provide nourishment for the needy.

“I think it’s outstanding,” said Perrydale agricultural teacher and FFA advisor Christina Lorenz. “It teaches students so much about giving back to their community.”

Former Perrydale teacher and longtime program coordinator Kirk Hutchinson agrees.

“When kids go to the delivery places, they get their eyes opened,” he said. “Those people are so incredibly grateful to receive this bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables that not everyone gets this time of year.”

That is the reason Cruickshank believes it is so important to support it.

He’s proud to watch his son, Devin Cruickshank, an officer in Perrydale FFA, juggle his schedule to give everything he can to the effort.

Over the years, he’s watched Food For All have the same impact on other students.

“It shows them where it (the food) goes,” he said. “It’s fun to see the kids interact with me as the truck driver and all the different farmers and processors.”

Cruickshank said Food For All requires students to give presentations to prospective donors about the good the program does for the nearly 5,000 families who will receive food this Christmas season.

Those presentations and the organization needed to pull them off teaches students key skills beyond math, reading and writing, he said.

Tiffany Clark, a freshman and one of Food For All’s ambassadors, said she’s been involved in every step of the program from requesting donations to delivery to food banks and other holiday food drives. She said it’s helped her developed a better understanding of the need in many communities in Oregon, and the drive to want to help.

It’s also made it apparent how necessary volunteers like Cruickshank are.

“He’s helped with a lot of pickups,” she said.

Cruickshank is quick to say that he is only one piece of a vast network of volunteers and donors, “organized chaos” as Lorenz puts it, who have helped to program grow.

Hutchinson, also fellow school board member, notes that it takes each person to make it work.

“He has been really generous with his time in transporting food,” Hutchinson said. “It’s everybody together that makes it happen.”

Cruickshank said Food For All requires students to give presentations to prospective donors about the good the program does for the families who will receive food this Christmas season. This year that number is 5,000.

Those presentations and the organization needed to successfully pull them off teaches students key skills beyond math, reading and writing, he said.

Tiffany Clark, a freshman and one of Food For All’s ambassadors, said she’s been involved in every step of the program from requesting donations to delivery to food banks and other holiday food drives.

She said it’s helped her develop a better understanding of the need in many communities in Oregon, and the drive to want to help. It’s also made it apparent how necessary volunteers like Cruickshank are.

“He’s helped with a lot of pickups,” she said.

Cruickshank is quick to say that he is only one piece of a vast network of volunteers and donors, “organized chaos” as Lorenz puts it, who have helped the program to grow.

Hutchinson, a fellow school board member, notes that it takes each person, including Cruickshank, to make it work.

“He has been really generous with his time in transporting food,” Hutchinson said. “It’s everybody together that makes it happen.”

For Cruickshank, there’s there is an even more critical lesson to teach.

“Giving back,” he said.

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