July 21, 2021 — The 11th annual Power of Florence took place on July 17, with hundreds of volunteers and members of local organizations taking part in various activities to improve and enhance the quality of life in this area. The motto for the day is “Each one. One day. Making a Difference Together,” and that goal was reached on Saturday.
Projects undertaken included clean-ups of local parks and recreational areas, food collection for Florence Food Share and a free book distribution for students, among others.
One of the larger events this year was a combined effort organized by Western Lane Ambulance District, Safe Shelter for Siuslaw Students and a new organization in town, Sea Scouts, which is working towards obtaining a charter to operate in Florence.
WLAD provided dozens of bike helmets to many of the youth who received 35 free bikes from Sea Scout alumni Dean Lundie, who is working to establish a local branch of the Sea Scouts.
“These kids are great!” Lundie said during the event. “After being locked down for the last year and a half, I really wanted to do something for the kids, so I bought a bunch of bikes up and down the coast, and we are going to give them all way today.”
He hopes this first big event with Sea Scouts might also encourage youth to consider the organization, which is “like Boy Scouts on the water.” He is working with the Port of Siuslaw on organizing and more information will be available soon.
On Saturday, there was no charge to students or their parents for the bikes or helmets, but there was one small thing required to receive the items, according to local nonprofit radio station KXCR Board President Gigi Lassan, who was on hand as a sponsor of the giveaway.
“Those children had to write an essay to Safe Shelter for Siuslaw Students to pick up their bicycle,” she said. “It was wonderful and the smiles on the faces of those children were priceless.”
The power of Florence, originally the brainchild of Kaylee Graham, who was ten years old at the time, has become a model for public service days in communities around America. Kaylee has continued supporting the “Power of Florence “and her mother Shannon was leading the distribution of books to students at Miller Park on Saturday.
“We celebrated the 11th annual power of Florence by giving away a retail value of about $12,000 worth of books at the Book Gifting,” Shannon reported. “More than 100 children got to pick eight brand new beautiful books, retail valued on average at $120 worth per child.”
This year’s giveaway was possible because of people’s donations at the 2020 Power of Florence.
“More than 300 kids at Siuslaw Elementary School received books throughout the school year to help build their home libraries during distance-learning with thanks to our generous community,” Shannon said.
The recent lifting of COVID restrictions was somewhat unexpected and many of the usual elements of the day — an early morning free breakfast at the Florence Methodist Church, the Power Walk through Old Town and landscaping at Gallagher Park with members of the Florence Garden Club — will be included again next year if things on the public health front continue to improve.
One event that was included this year, despite COVID concerns, was the Van Fans Ice Cream Social, which was held at the Florence Events Center on Saturday afternoon. The Van Fans support the Friends of Florence Cancer Van, which transports patients to appointments at facilities in the Willamette Valley.
In addition, the Florence Food Share “Stuff the Bus” challenge brought in more than 2,000 pounds of food and $350. People supporting the University of Ducks won, bringing in 1,322 pounds of food compared to Oregon State Beaver fans, who donated 726 pounds.
This event was coordinated with Pacific Dunes Shrine Club and Florence Grocery Outlet.
“Your generous support continues to improve the lives of your fellow community members,” stated a post on food share’s Facebook.
Other events also occurred throughout the day.