GLADSTONE, Ore. — It's been a tough week for Ben Hildner in Gladstone. He has been out of power since the winter storm last weekend. On Friday, he finally asked for help.
"I just kind of finally broke down. I was hauling wood, scraping things together and trying to stay warm and said finally, 'Fine, fine I would like a hot meal,'" said Hildner.
That's what he found Friday at Gladstone High School, where community volunteers have been providing hot meals to folks who've been without power.
Gladstone City councilor Annessa Hartman and local parent Ginger Zimtbaum are leading the effort. Both lost power but got it back relatively quickly and wanted to help others.
"It came to light that we need to get rid of our food in our coolers, so instead of throwing it all away and wasting, we had the idea to cook it for our neighbors," said Hartman.
What started with just the two of them turned into a huge community effort in a matter of hours. Local restaurants donated food from chicken to pancakes to pizza.
Other businesses joined forces to bring additional needed resources to the table.
"We’ve been able to hook people up with firewood, propane canisters and batteries," said Zimtbaum. "We’ve been really working hard to pull everybody’s resources together and try to get them to the people that need it most.”
In four days they’ve helped close to 500 of their neighbors without power.
For those on the receiving end, the effort goes beyond immediate needs. "Knowing that we can rely on each other, knowing that we can build relationships and that we can continue reaching out to each other, that’s going to last a lot longer than this meal will," said Hildner.
The team is now looking at potentially expanding this effort beyond Gladstone to other parts of Clackamas County.
If you'd like to volunteer, offer resources or if you know someone who could use some help, check out their Facebook page: Gladstone Ice Storm Mutual Aid.