Fruit mascot delights Parkdale students

New Pear Packers tested as a promotional pilot program for Hood River Valley fruit

PARKDALE — A surprise visitor interrupted a geography lesson at Parkdale Elementary.

“Perry,” one of the Pear Bureau Northwest’s USA Pear Buddy mascots, strode into Pam Starling’s third grade classroom last week, to a moment of stunned silence followed by a chorus of shy giggles.

Accompanying the costumed figure was Mark Mears, field representative from the Duckwall-Pooley Fruit Company. Mears had arranged the special appearance to introduce his daughter, Hannah, 9, and her peers to a new Pear Packer. He passed out individual Anjou pears in the clear container and pointed out that it prevented soft and juicy ready-to-eat fruit from bruising while in a lunch bag.

“We want everyone to use these and think of a nutritional snack when you come to school,” said Mears.

He was joined at the school by Laura Wieking, representative from the Pear Bureau, who was also interested in seeing how the students reacted to the reusable product — as well as helping to educate them about the role fresh fruit played in a healthy lifestyle.

“It was just kind of a pear promotion and pilot program to see how well these (containers) were received,” Mears said.

The recyclable mid-weight plastic holder spurred the creativity of the young recipients, one of whom immediately turned it into a pair of glasses and another who peeled off the label and stuck it on her forehead. Although Mears admits these uses were not exactly what the agriculture agency had in mind during production, he said the experience for students was extremely positive.

Following the visit to Starling’s class, Mears and Wieking passed out winter pears donated by Duckwall Pooley to the rest of the student body and the fruit — and new holders — were enjoyed during the lunch break.

“Have fun, play games, be active and eat lots of good food,” Mears told his delighted audience.

Pear Packers can be ordered directly from the Pear Bureau’s Website at The Bureau represents 1,600 orchardists in Oregon and Washington and develops national and international markets for Northwest-grown fruit distribution.

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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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