May St. readers send some `comfort' to NYC

The kids chose their favorite book titles, and gave them away.

"The Hobbit," "Black Beauty," and even "Captain Underpants" are on their way to New York City in a goodwill and literacy project that started at May Street Elementary on Sept. 11.

Students and teachers formed a gift-wrapping party last week, packaging a couple hundred books that will go to children on the East Coast.

In October, May Street kids enlisted family members in a reading pledge drive, devoting a day or half-day to turning pages as a way to raise money for the books.

"We had a coin drive, which was a good thing to do, but we wanted something the kids could do to support the Sept. 11 victims," said second-grade teacher Emily Rowan. "It was easier for the kids to visualize."

Students really got into the mood on reading day, bringing pillows and stuffed animals.

"We know how much comfort we get from reading," said Cheryl Madsen, first-grade teacher.

The students raised $968, and a Girl Scout group from the school added another $150 they had raised. Fifth-grader MacKenzie Ragan said the group set up a babysitting service after Sept. 11, with excellent response from parents.

"We didn't want it to go to anyone else, besides the kids who lost their parents," MacKenzie said.

The school donations were sent to Volunteers of America, which is setting aside money to buy books and school materials for children whose parents died as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The students get something in return, besides the satisfaction of helping their peers across country. The books were purchased at last month's school book fair, with part of those proceeds coming back to fund programs at May Street.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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