Military back-up: mother will give free day care

Debbie Lee offers a little relief

Debbie Lee is looking for a few good women. (Or men.) She’d like to help them out.

Lee, who owns Kids-R-Us day care and pre-school, is offering 15 hours per week of free day care to anyone with a spouse serving in the military and deployed as a result of the war in Iraq.

“In so many towns where I’ve lived or visited, businesses offer discounts to military personnel,” Lee said. She decided she could do something similar by offering free day care. “I thought, what an awesome way to show our support for our men and women overseas.” Lee has a stake in showing her support: she has two sons and a son-in-law serving in the military.

One of Lee’s inspirations for the idea came from her own daughter, Cheryl Wells, who moved back to Hood River this week from Louisiana after her husband, Chris, was shipped to Iraq with the Army. Cheryl has three small children.

“I know a couple of other families with small children whose husbands have been deployed,” Lee said. “These women are with their children 24 hours a day. The service I could provide would give them time to do some shopping or just take a break.”

Lee is hoping she inspires other local businesses to offer services or discounts to families of deployed military personnel. She’s even willing to help coordinate it — to act as an “information center” of such services offered in the area.

She’s also hoping to get some volunteers to help at Kids-R-Us if she gets overwhelmed by her offer.

“I’m counting on some back-up!” she said.

With three family members in the military, Lee says she is apprehensive but also comforted.

“Knowing these guys personally, it makes me feel more comfortable knowing they’re over there protecting us,” she said. “On the other hand, you have to face the reality that they might not come back. I’d be very hard and calloused to say that doesn’t bother me.” In the meantime, Lee turns to her strong Christian faith for comfort — and, now, she hopes to comfort others by offering free day care.

“I just want to do something positive,” she says. “Something that can encourage and support our troops.”

For more information, call Debbie Lee at Kids-R-Us at 386-9123.

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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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