On September 27, the Union Gospel Mission (UGM) hosted their 14th annual street fair, Operation Overcoat, where they distributed over 1300 meals and 6000 articles of clothing to those in need in downtown Portland.
“Operation Overcoat has become the Mission’s biggest service day of the year. This is a great event that helps people get the things they need for the colder weather and it is a day of fun. We are grateful for the donors and volunteers that make it possible,” said Bill Russell, Union Gospel Mission’s Executive Director.
The street in front of the Mission, Northwest Third Street between Burnside and Couch, was closed from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM for the duration of the street fair. Lines began to stretch around the block nearly two hours before the event was scheduled to start.
“Some items we go through quickly, so we encourage people to come early. If people need a specific thing like boots or shoes, socks or underwear, those tend to go really fast,” said Stacy Kean, UGM’s communications director.
Tents staffed by volunteers were lined up along the street. Inside each tent, resources such as clothing, winter coats, shoes, boots, sleeping bags, blankets, and kits of hygiene products were organized for men, women, and children.
Franz Bakery and Sysco offered discounted hamburgers, turkey dogs, and buns for UGM to host a barbeque during the fair.
Upon arrival, guests could choose to either line up first for shopping or food. Each guest was given a ticket booklet to shop for items.
The Union Gospel Mission did not require any sort of screening for guests to benefit from Operation Overcoat. Any family or individual who desired to participate was accepted.
“The community came through really big for us. Many of our long-time supporters have stepped up,” said Kean.
Medical Teams International provided free dental care through their Mobile Dental Van.
Birch Community Services partnered with Danner Boots to provide four pallets of boots.
Coca-Cola donated one pallet of water and one pallet of Coke Zero.
Collection drives from Progress Ridge Cinetopia and 99.5 FM The Wolf also provided proceeds and resources for Operation Overcoat.
UGM has served the Portland community since 1927 to provide resources for those in need. Their mission is: “Feeding the hungry, restoring the addict and loving our neighbor.”
Although Operation Overcoat is over for 2014, UGM is still seeking resources to continue to distribute to the Portland community. To donate time or resources, visit their website.