CLARK COUNTY — When Clark County resident George Golden points out that Matthew 7:12, the verse from the Bible that states, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets,” is displayed on the back of his LINKS delivery van, he has to laugh as he points out that the verse is the “Golden Rule” and asks one simple follow-up question.
“What’s my name?” Golden asks, grinning.
That grins gets even wider when whoever he’s talking to at the time puts the two together — the “Golden Rule” is on his van, and his name is George Golden.
Not only is the “Golden Rule” proudly displayed on Golden’s van simply in the form of Matthew 7:12, but Golden himself strives to follow that very rule every single day through his local nonprofit called LINKS (Linking Individuals Needing Karing Services). Golden is the founder and CEO of the organization, which since 2009 has been helping bring food to those in need.
While Golden, 73, says the aspects of what his job entails have changed and evolved many times, he said one of the constants of the job is that it is “strange.”
“Everything I pick up each day, I have to deliver it immediately (because I don’t have anywhere to store anything) and you only get so much each day, so you end up having to decide who gets it one day and who doesn’t,” Golden said. “Because there’s never enough to give some to everyone.”
LINKS first began as a community service project serving with the assistance of local businesses, churches and nonprofit charities. The organization was originally brought together to respond to the need for emergency food for families. Golden has delivered food items to law enforcement agencies, school districts, veterans’ organizations, area churches and more. Staff members at these organizations are then able to directly provide food to families in an emergency.
Golden also collects some perishable foods, such as sandwiches and salads, that he then delivers to day shelters like Share House, Open House Ministries, Friends of the Carpenter, Freedom House and the Clark County Veterans Center.
In addition, LINKS also helps to provide food to active military members at USO at the Portland Airport and the Army Service Center.
Over the years, LINKS has had several different partnerships with businesses and organizations. Originally, Golden partnered with the Sunshine Division, receiving donated food boxes from the organization that he then delivered to different organizations that helped those in need. After that partnership fell flat, Golden began partnering with area 7-Eleven stores, who would donate their “pull-dated” items such as hoagies, fruit, sandwiches, salad, doughnuts and more to LINKS.
Customers at 7-Eleven stores that are participating with LINKS also have the opportunity to purchase a pizza to donate to the LINKS program. The customer purchases a pizza, but the pizza stays at the store and is picked up by Golden during regularly scheduled pick-ups and is delivered to someone in need.
Golden pointed out that the pizza partnership with 7-Eleven enabled LINKS to be able to provide approximately 2,000 pizzas to the troops who were sent to help with the Oso landslide in 2014.
Back when he was his busiest, Golden said he was doing pick-ups seven days a week from a variety of places, including Winco, Franz Bakery, 7-Eleven and more. He has since cut back a bit and generally does pick-ups each week at Franz and also picks up pastries from one of the Vancouver-area Brewed Awakenings locations.
“In this job, I don’t get to see the results all the time,” Golden said. “One day, I was at a assisted living apartment place in Vancouver and the lady who was helping me unload things said one of the senior citizens getting in her car to go to work. She asked her if she’d had an breakfast, and she said something about being in a rush. So, then she asked the woman if she had something to take for lunch, and she said she would get something later. So, she walked over and picked up a couple of the sandwiches that I had brought and gave them to the woman. The woman almost started crying. I don’t get to see that all the time.”
In addition to providing food to those in need, LINKS has also helped with getting other items to people who may need them, such as school supplies, toys and gifts during Christmas time and more. Golden said he currently no longer delivers food items to the schools, but that because of what he started, some area schools like Evergreen High School have started their own food banks.
“I’m servicing people who don’t go to the regular food bank because they’re not eligible,” Golden said. “You would think helping those in need, military families, etc., would be a no brainer.”
LINKS is always in need of donations, whether they be monetary, nonperishable food donations or donations of equipment and/or storage space. Those interested in donating to LINKS can find out more about how to do so by visiting http://www.linksusd.org/donations.html. To find out more general information about the LINKS organization, visit http://www.linksusd.org/donations.html. Golden can be reached via phone at (360) 356-3793 or (360) 713-3297. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.