PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In the face of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic and recovery from devastating wildfires, volunteers in Clackamas County are ramping up their efforts to help out families in need during the holiday season–but they need community donations to make it happen.

For 23 years, the Clackamas High School Key Club has been raising money, clothes, a food basket and other items for “adopted” families during the winter time for an event formerly known as “Winter Rage,” which this year has been rebranded to simply “Winter Blitz.”

Usually they are able to help out around 200 families each year, but due to factors like coronavirus and wildfires, organizers estimate they will have a significantly smaller budget to work with and even more families than ever in the Clackamas community seeking help.

Food baskets prepared as part of ‘Winter Blitz,’ a donation drive to help families in need in the Clackamas community. File photo from 2019’s fundraising event at Clackamas High School (KOIN).

“The student body usually raises somewhere between $10,000-$15,000. We’re not going to be able to do that at the capacity through distance learning,” explained Cindy Rochester, a Clackamas High School Math Teacher and coordinator for Winter Blitz.

Rochester said she estimates the students will be able to raise perhaps $5,000.

“I’m looking at a $10,000 difference there. Plus knowing that in the back of my mind I might have to go from 200 families to 300 families because of COVID, because of the fires, the need is going to be way bigger this year.”

Rochester said fundraising will occur throughout the month of November, which can be done in various ways. For instance, monetary donations can be made through the CHS Winter Blitz 2020 website. Gift cards and Winter Blitz 2020 T-shirts are also available to purchase for fundraising needs.

In addition, a canned food drive where people can drop off donations was listed for Clackamas High School on Friday November 13 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday November 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The address is Clackamas High School East Campus 14331 SE 132nd Ave, Clackamas, OR 97015.

Members of Clackamas High School Key Club are asking the community for donations to help families in need during the holidays for ‘Winter Blitz’ as the number of families struggling surges this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and recovery from wildfires. November 3, 2020 (courtesy Clackamas High School Key Club).

Rochester said the Wichita Center for Family & Community, which is run by the North Clackamas School District, is a partnering organization which usually matches the number of donations family-to-family with Clackamas High School. So if Clackamas High School adopts 200 families, the Wichita Center will adopt another 200, meaning 400 total families are helped. This year that grand total is expected to reach 600.]

Once all the donation items are collected and money raised, an event culminates on December 5 in which the adopted families can pick up their donated supplies form six different locations spread throughout the North Clackamas School District, Rochester said.

Clackamas High School Treasurer Hua Ming Wu, a senior, said even giving just a little bit toward the cause still creates a small difference that has a rippling effect felt throughout the community.

“The difference it made in our community, as a member not an officer last year, just seeing how many families we could help and effect, it actually inspired me to become an officer so I can make more of a difference in my community.”