North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Resource management, logistics concerns met by volunteers

Managing the huge outpouring of donations has been a challenging task.


Sue Stevenson

Tasha Branch, regional program manager for Girl Scouts of Western Washington (center), helps unload a truck from Arlington Hardware filled with donations for victims of the Oso mudslide.

As locals began to respond to the tragedy in Oso, community organizations quickly found themselves overwhelmed by the truckloads of donations pouring in. The tasks of sorting, creating an inventory list, finding storage, and distribution to victims was a huge challenge for the mostly volunteer staffs.

Several groups, spearheaded by the Girl Scouts of Western Washington, recognized the need for logistical management and came together to find a solution.

"It was clear that there was a need to coordinate donations and address long-term storage needs, and to develop a process for getting the necessary items to those in need," said Tasha Branch, an Oso native who now serves as regional program manager for the Girl Scouts of Western Washington.

Branch jumped into action, partnering with the Oso Fire Hall, Oso Chapel and food bank, and other community service organizations in Oso and Arlington to start finding solutions.

On Thursday, March 27, a Community Collection Center opened in donated warehouse space at the Arlington Business Park, staffed by volunteers from several organizations and the surrounding communities. The address of the center, which is open from 2 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, is 17825-59th Ave. NE, Suite A, in Arlington.

"We know that those affected by the mudslide will have lots of needs, for a long time," said Branch. "With this facility, we can store donations for disbursement as needed, even if it's several months from now."

Sue Stevenson

Tasha Branch (left) and Ted Wheeler of T&E Industrial in the warehouse space donated by Wheeler.

The center will work with community organizations to maintain lists of needed items and match them with available donations. By providing goods directly to the victims, Branch is hopeful that the wait time will be reduced.

The collection center is geared to accept large volumes of donations rather than individual items, and Branch encouraged residents to continue making contributions at their local community organizations-thrift stores, food bank, Cascade Valley Hospital and others. Those collection points will then deliver the donated items to the center in the Arlington Business Park for inventory and storage.

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