Editorial: United Way needs communities' help as it expands campaign goal

September 24, 2011

Wings surrounded the festivities at Thursday's United Way kickoff party, and it is wings that United Way seeks to provide.

With antique airplanes and cars as the backdrop, United Way held its third annual Luau at Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum.

"We give tonight because there are many who need our help," Hood River United Way council member Bob Francis exhorted the more than 425 people attending the sold-out luau.

Overhead, the Hawaiian phrase "Mahalo nui loa" - thank you - remained on the screen during often spirited oral auction bidding for art work, wine dinners, vacations and other donated items. (The usual silent auction also took place.)

The event raised $34,000 in net proceeds in 2010, and while the numbers are still being counted, United Way chairman Dave Scarborough said he is optimistic the 2011 luau will surpass the 2010 level. That will position United Way for a successful 2011 campaign, which begins now.

United Way, the umbrella organization representing dozens of nonprofits in the Gorge, allocated $140,000 to those groups in 2010.

This year's goal is $180,000, and it will take all the communities in the Gorge to achieve it.

"It would be a good improvement and realistic," Scarborough said.

In the coming weeks, coordinators at large employers will convene employees to ask for payroll deductions in support of the United Way campaign. Meanwhile, at smaller employers, United Way council members will make their appeals at staff gatherings.

Anyone interested in making a donation to United Way can go through its website:


United Way seems to garner more and more support every year, but the agency recognizes its own need to develop a year-round outreach program, "beyond the luau," as Scarborough puts it.

"We know we need to build a better database and outreach all year long, and build on the luau and the (December) holiday concert, which are our two events that the community has really responded to."

He called the year-round outreach and awareness, including a possible spring event, "the third leg in the stool.

"We need to make more of a year-round effort so we are staying more in the forefront of people's minds," Scarborough said.

The umbrella metaphor is an apt one, and not just for Hawaii, where rain is a daily occurrence.

Virtual bad weather, those financial and social stresses that storm so many people's lives in the Gorge, happen every day, and that is why United Way is there: an annual cost-effective way of raising money for organizations in need, and distributing it to them in a coordinated fashion.

As the 2011 campaign gets under way, consider making a donation, for the benefit of your neighbors throughout the Gorge. Mahalo nui loa in advance.

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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

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