United Way falls $15,000 short

Local charity hopes to gather funds in final six weeks of drive

Hood River County United Way announced Monday that its campaign would fall $15,000 short this year, unless additional contributions can be secured in the next six weeks. Failure to reach last year’s amount — and the current campaign’s goal — of $105,000 will force the local United Way to reduce funding to local agencies.

“The wolf is at the door for our local agencies,” said United Way Executive Director Rosie Thomas-Wiley. “State funding is already being cut, and now this will cause further distress for persons already in need. Without United Way funds, programs and staff will be cut all over town. And it’s the people needing the services that will suffer. How can we cut services like emergency shelter, meals for seniors, or the blood bank?”

“This is the most dire circumstance I’ve seen in my nearly 20 years of working with people with disabilities,” said Barbara Briggs, United Way board member and former Executive Director of Columbia Gorge Center. “I don’t think the public really understands that with these kinds of cuts, folks are going to be on the street — out of supported housing, out of group homes, out of choices.”

Paul Blackburn, United Way board member says, “It’s a double hit for these agencies. The economy is down, so demand for social services is up. And now they are looking at cutting programs? That’s really tough to hear.”

Each year, Hood River County United Way channels donations from hundreds of individuals and businesses to around 15 local agencies providing a range of services in the community.

Through the work of volunteers and one part-time staffer, last year 82 percent of money raised went directly to the service providers.

Fortunately, the United Way drive can still make up the shortfall, with funding contributions received through Feb. 1, 2003.

“Hopefully, the community can again step forward to address the shortfall in the time remaining to us.”

Donations to offset the shortfall can be mailed — until Feb. 1 — to Hood River County United Way, PO Box 2, Hood River, OR 97031.

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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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