County kids lend hands to FISH Food Bank

The FISH Food Bank got a helping hand on Thursday — actually, many helping hands. Five 8th grade girls from Hood River Middle School who organized last month’s Hands Across the Gorge event, in which 200 middle school students from around the Gorge linked hands across the Bridge of the Gods to raise awareness about hunger, spent the afternoon at the food bank helping pack food bags.

But before they started, the girls handed over to FISH organizers an envelope containing $3,462.68. The money is part of nearly $5,000 students from Hood River Middle School, Wy’east Middle School, Cascade Locks School and Wind River Middle School in Stevenson raised in donations connected to the Hands Across the Gorge event. The remaining money will be divided between the Cascade Locks Food Bank, a food bank in Skamania County and the Hood River Christmas Project, which gives holiday food baskets to needy families.

“We are very blessed,” said Irene Best, Fish Food Bank coordinator.

Katie McMasters, one of the 8th grade organizers of the project, said she and the other girls had not expected to raise so much money for the food banks.

“In the beginning, we thought we were going to raise about $2,000,” she said. “Then it just expanded.”

The girls — which, along with McMasters, included Sierra Geddis, Justine Campbell, Dani Lichty and Julie Hazlett — spearheaded the project as part of teacher Jack Sprague’s Making a Difference class. They organized every aspect of the project, from coordinating the 200 students who joined hands on the Bridge of the Gods near Cascade Locks on Oct. 24 in a symbolic connection to the needy to seeking donations for the area food banks.

“The girls did everything,” Sprague said.

With Thursday’s cash infusion, and local generosity, the FISH Food Bank is well stocked for the holiday season, according to Best.

“We’re in wonderful shape,” she said. “We couldn’t be better. Thanks to the community, something comes in almost every day.”

McMasters and her fellow project organizers will graduate from middle school at the end of this school year and head to high school. But they hope to continue what they started this year with Hands Across the Gorge.

“We want to make this a yearly thing,” McMasters said.

The FISH Food Bank is open for distribution Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 4 to 5 p.m. It is located in Concordia Lutheran Church at 11th and Pine streets in the Heights.

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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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