Neighbors First

Days of all-inclusive social planning

December 17, 2005

Holiday social planning in Hood River these days quite often puts neighbors first.

Numerous individuals, clubs, school groups, churches, and businesses went to lengths this year to bolster the Hood River Christmas Project, which culminates another successful year this weekend. The same can be said for the collection efforts for the FISH food bank, where once again the Hood River Valley High School students surpassed the record, with 25,000 items of food totaled up this week. Heaven knows what homework and social gatherings the kids had to give up in November and December to accomplish this. Many thanks to the students, and to the citizens who delved into their pantries when the kids knocked on the door.

The drive has been the students’ focus for a number of weeks. Compare it to this item from Dec. 24, 1937, Hood River News: “Quite the largest social function planned for the college and school sets during the holidays is the Christmas dance to be given Dec. 29 by the Odell Alumni Association. The dance will be the first given in the new Odell gymnasium and is being eagerly awaited by the young people of both town and country. The affair is strictly invitational and cards which were mailed last Wednesday must be presented.”

This was of a time and place, with the Great Depression thawing, and the kids had every right to step out and celebrate.

But these days, seasonal observances are far from “strictly invitational.” Be it the annual fun of Elks’ Children’s Party (details on page A3) or the Christmas Day free community meal (page A5) planned by a Hood River woman, and any number of other goodwill offerings in the community, no invitation is necessary. Giving comes easy in Hood River, and it is a 24-hour activity.

On that note, we invite readers to enjoy the 23rd, and next-to-last, edition of “Around the Clock,” the hour-by-hour Saturday chronicle of life in the county. Stops have included 9-1-1 dispatch center, Relay For Life, a gas station, a care center, the post office, hat company, pear orchard, a Cascade Locks restaurant, the hospital, Parkdale School, Meals on Wheels, a Rotary meeting, Bonneville Dam, a packing house, a school bus, backstage at HRVHS, a printing press, a basketball camp, a pizza parlor, a towing company, the bowling alley, and, this week, a window factory.

The 24-hour odyssey ends in our Christmas Eve edition, with an hour in the life of someone involved in social planning — something that puts neighbors first.

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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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