Events light town to start holidays

Holiday charity events help ring in the season beginning this week.

For readers seeing this on Tuesday, there's time to get to Hospice of the Gorge's "Light up a Life" celebration at the Columbia Gorge Hotel. The special tree-lighting ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m. in the hotel ballroom, where refreshments will be served and all attending will have a chance to offer a tribute in remembrance of someone special.

The ceremony continues outside the hotel with lighting and decorating of the hospice tree. The tree will shine until early January, when another ceremony will be held and the names of hospice patients who died during 2001 will be read.

On Thursday, the Hood River Hotel hosts its annual tree trimming party in the hotel lobby from 5 to 8 p.m. Kids and adults alike are invited to help decorate the 17-foot tree, enjoy refreshments and live music by local musicians. The party is the kick-off for the holiday Food and Toy Drive, held in conjunction with the Hood River Christmas Project and FISH food bank. New unwrapped toys and canned or dry goods can be placed under the tree until Dec. 20, when they will be distributed to local individuals and families.

Along with the tree trimming, the hotel will be open for room tours as part of its annual open house. The hotel, built in 1913, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Hood River County Christmas Project is in full swing, with food and toy drives and fundraising efforts underway at churches, schools businesses and service clubs. The "Tree of Joy" is up at Wal-Mart, where people can pick a child's wish off a tree and buy a gift specifically for him or her. All donations will be assembled at the Expo Center during the week of Dec. 10 for distribution to families Dec. 14-15.

The Christmas Project anticipates serving at least 500 needy families this year. Each senior and child receives a small gift and each family, including senior households, receives a food basket. Donations (including cash) can be made to U.S. Bank in the Heights or mailed to the Christmas Project, P.O. Box 682, Hood River. Volunteers are needed to collect donations, assemble baskets and deliver them to the disabled. For more information call Sherril or Irv Smith at 354-2619 or e-mail them at irvandsher@gorge.net.

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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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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