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August 15 Friday, October 27, 2006

Earlier in the summer, another photojournalist I know forwarded an email from an organization called Schoolhouse Supplies that was looking for volunteers to photograph their annual Tools for Schools campaign.

Schoolhouse Supplies is a non-profit organization that operates
a volunteer-run free store for teachers, which is stocked with supplies donated by the community. For the Tools for Schools campaign, companies adopt one of the high-need schools in Portland, load backpacks full of pencils and notepads and such, and deliver them to the kids. I was there on the first day of packing, when front office staff of the Portland Beavers baseball and Portland Timbers soccer clubs were there, as well as employees of Clarity Visual Systems.

The operation was set up like an assembly line, with each volunteer responsible for a single task such as putting the right number of pencils in the pencil case, or putting a pair of scissors in the package. All of the contents were put into backpacks, which were loaded into the back of a waiting vehicle. The whole system ran remarkably smoothly—if I recall correctly, roughly 25 volunteers loaded about 450 packs in about two hours.

Because it was the first day of the campaign, the local media were out to cover it. At right, Jeff Kirsch of news radio station 1190KEX interviews a representative of the Portland Beavers. Two local television stations also dropped by.