Sunshine Division: 100 Years of Hope

Since 1923, Sunshine Division has been on the front lines providing emergency food and clothing relief to our most vulnerable neighbors.

It all started in 1922, when the economy had taken a dip and the City of Portland had to lay off more than 40 police officers. To compensate for the loss, then-Portland Mayor George Baker gathered volunteer civilians to serve in emergency situations, which would eventually be called the Portland Police Reserve.

The volunteers found themselves responding to widespread poverty in Portland by collecting food to fill Christmas baskets that were delivered to those in need. Eventually, the volunteers were dubbed “George Baker’s Sunshine Boys,” as they spread cheer to the households they visited.

By Christmas 1923, uniformed police and Portland Police Reserve volunteers were collecting food and delivering to hungry families.

  • Volunteers at Sunshine Division (Credit: Sunshine Division)
  • Volunteers at Sunshine Division (Credit: Sunshine Division)
  • Volunteers at Sunshine Division (Credit: Sunshine Division)

Nearly 100 years after those early humanitarian efforts — and still in a partnership with the Portland Police Bureau — Sunshine Division continues its mission: providing emergency food and clothing relief year-round to Portland families and individuals in need.

Now more than ever, Sunshine Division is meeting the needs of our local community. Over the past two years, one in five Oregonians sought food assistance. Many families and individuals are still struggling with challenges such as inflation, the COVID-19 pandemic, SNAP benefit cuts, and soaring housing costs in Portland. Those challenges have fueled a surge in need and more than 100,000 people will seek assistance from Sunshine Division alone this year.

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Sunshine Division continues to offer hope through its emergency home food deliveries to our vulnerable neighbors who are homebound, medically fragile and have limited transportation. However, Sunshine Division cannot continue this vital mission alone. Help them fight food insecurity in our community.

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