Portland volunteers grateful to give back this Thanksgiving

Portland’s Celebration Tabernacle Church hosted the 23rd annual PROPER Thanksgiving in the Kenton neighborhood Thursday, serving hundreds of community members from across Portland.

PROPER, which stands for People Reaching Other People Expecting Restoration, prepared dozens of traditional Thanksgiving meals to feed neighbors, low-income families and homeless communities. The organization had over 100 volunteers plan, prepare and serve the food.

“We wanted it to be communal,” said Amy Rutherford-Close, who helped organize the event. “We want people to feel like they belong.”

The organization partners with Po’ Shines Cafe De La Soul, several local grocery stores and the Kenton Neighborhood Association among others to bring the event to life. Six large tables spanned the room as families and strangers alike enjoyed a warm meal and live music.

Alex Cox, 42, couldn’t spend the holiday with family this year, so they decided to volunteer with PROPER to help feel less homesick.

“I wasn’t able to be with them, so being able to be here for others lets me get out of my own head,” Cox said. “It’s really nice to just serve other people.”

Outside of being grateful for the event, Cox said it serves as a good reminder to be thankful this year for what we have. They said the experience has convinced them to look for more volunteering opportunities.

“It inspired me to look into being able to help my community on a more regular basis,” Cox said.

Kenton resident Vince Wilcox has been coming to the event for three years. Every year he’s picked up food for his neighbors, many of whom have medical conditions that make it so they can’t leave their homes, he said.

“Good food, good people,” Wilcox said. “Everyone seems festive and cheerful.”

– Austin De Dios; adedios@oregonian.com; (503) 319-9744

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