Klamath Falls, Oregon — While some Americans fret over the safety of grocery shopping or dining out, too many others face even more serious food problems: a lack of food on their own tables.

Americans facing hunger included 5.3 million seniors in 2018, according to a 2020 report by the nonprofit Feeding America, which also reported 63% of its seniors choosing between paying for food and paying for medical care.

Thanks to generous supporters of Friends of the Children (FOTC) – Klamath Basin, struggling seniors in Klamath County recently received a new $2000 safety net for groceries, medical co-pays, and utilities. Grocery Outlet and Lithia Ford of Klamath Falls donated $1000 in grocery cards and $1000 in cash to a relief fund offered as a silent auction item during FOTC’s 2020 Friend Raiser fundraiser, held virtually on May 28.

The “Friends of the Grownups” package was purchased by an anonymous couple and will be distributed by Klamath Basin Behavioral Health (KBBH) to individuals in its Older Adult Special Populations Program, which serves more than 200.

“These seniors are isolated and without family. They need help with resources that decrease their social isolation and help with groceries, bills and transportation,” said Patty Card, KBBH director of administration. “With the Senior Center shut down due to COVID, it’s even harder for seniors living alone, so our volunteers are reaching out through phone calls and porch visits, providing art activities through Zoom, and helping them secure phone cards and set up phones for telehealth appointments. With these food cards and financial support, we can change lives.”

In addition to the “Friends of the Grownups” package, FOTC’s auction items included “Over $300 worth of dog food for our local Humane Society” and three “20 Acts of Kindness in 2020” packages, donated by the football teams at Klamath Union High School, Henley High School, and Mazama High School.

“We were thrilled to offer pay-it-forward auction items so that Friend Raiser could benefit as many people as possible,” said interim executive director Johanna Scholer.

“We are humbled to be able to keep our commitment to our youth, even during a pandemic, while also supporting other populations in our community that can use a little help, and this was only made possible by Grocery Outlet, Lithia Ford of Klamath Falls and our generous donors.”

Kirby Gordon, general manager of Lithia Ford of Klamath Falls (far right), presents a $1000 check
to Jay Otero at Klamath Basin Behavioral Health, as Grocery Outlet owners Tanja and Dylan
Hartung and their two-year-old son Finley display $1000 in grocery cards. The cash and cards,
auctioned by Friends of the Children to support its professional mentoring program, will help
fund KBBH’s Older Adult Special Populations Program. Also pictured (L to R) are KBBH Director
of Administration Patty Card and FOTC Board Chairs Jenine Stuedli and Traci Freid.