The Nicest Place in Oregon: Molalla High School in Molalla
NICEST PLACES IN AMERICA 2019 FINALIST
"Share the Love"
The students’ goal was to fill a jar full of money for the needy. It’s two decades later, and they need a MUCH larger jar.
Share the Love started as just an empty mason jar. A teacher at Molalla High School in Molalla, Oregon, a tight-knit town of 8,000 south of Portland, with a rodeo and views of snowcapped Mount Hood, put it out to raise money for a family member in need. Within just a few months the jar had collected $400.
Some 19 years later the students have grown that kitty into a headline-worthy charity. Share the Love’s student leaders sort through heart-wrenching application letters describing folks in need, then set to work raising funds for the chosen recipients. Over 19 years, they’ve raised an astounding total of $430,366 to help individuals and families.
A man diagnosed with a rare cancer called sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma needed the money to travel to Seattle for treatment. Another was diagnosed with breast cancer and used the funds to pay off medical debt and obtain a reliable vehicle to get to and from radiation appointments.
The outpouring of giving doesn’t stop with Share the Love. The school has a wall of Post-it notes on which students write kind messages for others to take when they’re having a bad day. Students commit to service projects, raising money for organizations throughout Molalla.
Helping the community extends far beyond the walls of the high school. “Unconditional love runs through the veins of this small and remarkable town,” says resident Maddy Brinkman.
This love and support is perhaps nowhere more evident than at Pip’s Gourmet Hot Dogs and Ice Cream on Main Street. Owner Greg Adams opened the local hot spot after his son, Jordan, an army sergeant, suffered a traumatic brain injury in a tragic car accident. At Pip’s—a nickname given to Jordan by a former baseball coach—veterans and men in uniform often eat free and can feel at home, comforted that someone cares and wants to listen.
The city of Molalla is one of the most caring and giving cities that I know of. For a city that has a little more than 9,000 people comes together and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last 19 years.
19 years ago, when we raised only $400 in three months, Molalla knew we had keep going. Over the years, we have grown exponentially. In February 2019, we raised over $90,000 for four deserving families in only three weeks. We do this through numerous events and activities throughout the community.
This year in particular, Molalla was faced with extra hardships during Share The Love. Three businesses suffered from a deadly fire. Not only was the town able to thrive and raise a record breaking amount of money, but citizens in the community also gave all kinds of support to the places affected by the fire. This alone shows the unconditional love that runs through the veins of this small and remarkable town.
These events not only take place at the high school, but in the district’s elementary and middles schools as well. My personal favorite part of this event and community is when we get to reveal the amount of money raised to our recipients every year. We do this at an assembly in the Molalla High School Gymnasium. The ASB Leadership at MHS makes a huge check and unveils it with confetti to the families in front the MHS student body and community members.
Everything that Molalla does every February is truly unique and needs to be shared with everyone!