Northwest Children’s Outreach w/Kids – Week 29

Where I Went:
Northwest Children’s Outreach (NCO) is a volunteer led, Christian based collection and distribution center providing basic needs to children in our community living in poverty.
First Impressions:
Monday morning I stood in the shower wondering what I would do for this week’s Nature of a Servant project. We had just returned home from vacation the night before and brought our daughters’ best friends from Washington home to Portland with us for the week. The kids are all going to a theater camp and I planned on using my kid-free hours to get into “back from vacation” mode.
The hot water pounded on my head and I mumbled the day’s to-do list to myself:
“Un-pack, do the laundry, go through the girls’ clothes and make a Goodwill pile. Wait – no, not Goodwill. Give the stuff to Northwest Children’s Outreach.
And then my revelation: 
“Hey! I could take all 4 girls to Northwest Children’s Outreach!”
A few weeks ago, my neighbor brought my daughters along with her own daughters to volunteer at NCO. I reciprocated the invitation and asked them if they’d like to join us this time. It would be a girl fest.
Silly, Serving Sisters
The Job:
Neighbor Friend and I drove to the Hillsboro NCO location and arrived only to find a sign on the door saying “We’ve Moved.” Luckily, the new space was nearby in a building kitty-corner in the same business park. We parked, unloaded the kids and walked into the unmarked new building.
New building number
“Oh, a Girl Scout troop!” Torrance, the Monday site manager, gasped.
“Not a troop,” I explained. “Just a set of sisters.”
Torrance gave a quick tour of the new, larger, donated space. Lots more room to house lots more clothing and diaper contributions. There is even a dedicated room for teen clothing.
Torrance leading brief orientation 
Volunteers filled the warehouse that evening packing large green trash bags full of clothes and toys for children. We girls paired up and got to work. Since I had never done this particular job before, I kept my youngest with me so she could show me the ropes. 
Each bag has a label with the child’s name, age, and clothing sizes:
Around our necks, we wore reminder cards listing everything that needed to go in each bag:

My youngest chose to pack for a 4 year old girl. I pulled down plastic storage bins full of tops, shorts and pants, dresses, and underwear and my daughter picked out items she thought the little one would love. (Translation: this 4 year old would have a lot of Disney clothing.)
I watched our girl group carefully choose items for each child they were helping. So much thought put into each piece. This really is the perfect volunteer job for kids because they know they’re helping other kids. 
All of this goes into the bag
NCO is open for 1 and 1/2 hours on weeknights, about the time it takes to fill 2 bags. The girls had so much fun for that brief period of time, hanging out together and knowing they doing something good. 
“Andee,” my eldest’s BFF stated, “I’m telling my mom we need to stay longer so we can help again next week.”
“Yeah, Mom,” echoed my eldest, “we need to do this more!”
The first time I wrote about volunteering with NCO, I mentioned how meeting with friends here could be more meaningful than chatting over coffee. This week, I realized that bringing a group of kids to volunteer may be the best “play date” I’ve ever planned. 
How To Help:
Helping at NCO is easy. Simply show up at the location close to you during the hours listed.
Important Note: All locations will be closed three weeks for summer break beginning July 30. Next week there will be A LOT of bags to fill, so consider donating a few hours to ensure every child gets basic necessities for the end of the season.
There are a few immediate needs for the new Hillsboro location. They are requesting two 8ft tables for their new teen storage area. Also needed are those stainless steel racks for holding storage tubs like the ones displayed here:
Please donate your kids’ outgrown clothing to NCO, knowing a child will be able to give new love to your donated items. That bag I put together of my own girls’ outgrown clothes last Monday? I accidentally forgot it at home. I guess we will be headed back to NCO very soon.
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  1. says

    I had recently volunteered again with NCO at the Pearl earlier this evening and last Friday! I feel bad since I only came in because I wanted to get more volunteer hours to reach my new goal of 200 hours by the end of August. Anyway, I had another opportunity to share your blog with another volunteer I know who also blogs about giving time to help others!

    • says

      Okay – you DO know that 3/4 the time I volunteer it's only because I have to keep myself accountable because of the blog, right? But, 100% of the time, I'm glad I helped. So it doesn't matter WHY you volunteer – you are volunteering!

  2. Anonymous says

    I feel so fortunate to have come across your blog. I am also in the portland area, and I have had it on my heart for some time to get involved in service work. My heart really is to involve the kids as well. I am wondering if you would be able to compile a list of portland area (and outside of portland within reasonable driving range) locations that are kid-friendly and allow kids to volunteer. This would be an amazing list to have handy. Thank you for this blog, may God bless you and may many others be inspired to serve. Laura

    • says

      Laura, that is an EXCELLENT idea! I will get on that this week. Please let me know if you help out with one of the organizations I've written about. I'd love to hear what others experience.

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