Wednesday, March 13, 2002
""If you watch your pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves," Ruth Jackson Cody used to tell her students at Park Street School, where the Children's Park now sits. She passed on a lot of other sound advice to her fourth graders at the school where she taught in the late 1950s and '60s, but the thing she did that perhaps had the most impact was never spoken of at all -- at least not to them.
"Ruth saw the need for some of the kids to have warm clothing when she was on playground duty," says Fran Cody, Ruth's sister-in-law. Even after she retired from teaching and helped her husband, Maynard, run their restaurant, The Snack Bar (now Carolyn's), Ruth was on the lookout for kids in need.
"Ruth often took the side of the underprivileged," Fran says.
Ruth also had practiced what she preached and watched her own pennies, so that by the time she died in 1976 she left a considerable estate, including a fund to provide warm clothes to needy school children in the community.
In her will, Ruth left specific instructions for Fran -- who taught at Hood River Valley High School -- and another teacher friend.
"She requested that (we) watch for children that were not clothed warmly in the winter, who did not have shoes," Fran says. "We were to take money and give it out to them as we saw fit." That's exactly what happened for many years. But Fran retired from teaching and had less and less contact with the school community. She tried to let school principals know the fund was available, but eventually it went untouched for long periods of time.
"I became a snowbird, and the fund was difficult to administer," Fran says.
When the Gorge Community Foundation got off the ground, Fran knew it was the perfect way to continue Ruth's legacy.
The Ruth Jackson Cody Fund is set up as a "field of interest" fund specifically to help needy children. It's primarily for kids who need warm clothing, but can also be used for eye care and even dentistry for kids whose families can't afford it.
"The fund is set up so that teachers who see this in the schools can apply to the foundation for grants," Fran says. "There's a policy in place so we believe it will be fair and available to any child in the county who is referred by teachers and others who see it." Fran plans to write a letter to all the schools in the county to inform them of the fund.
"I'm really pleased to think that Ruth's legacy can continue like this," Fran says. "I know she would be proud if she knew it."
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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