‘Everybody’s got the spirit’

Once again, the Hood River County Christmas Project has spread Christmas cheer to families who might not have had any otherwise.

Heading the project again this year was Bruce Holmson, who said that around 500 families — 2,100 individuals — received Christmas packages.

“It’s been right around that number for the last several years,” he said, “give or take 5 percent.”

Giving was up this year, he said. Donated funds are used to purchase a new toy for the children in each family, and food to augment the donated food; whatever is left is used to provide a gift card for each family, so that families may purchase perishable foods.

“This year we were able to give gift cards worth $27,” Holmson said. “Last year it was $23; the year before, $20; and the year before that, $15. The community has really stepped up this year.”

In addition to individual donations, the project receives many dollars from fundraisers such as the Annual Gala Fashion Show, held Nov. 16 this year, and grants from groups like the Lions and United Way.

Food donations come from every which way, including drop boxes at participating merchants and the huge canned food drive put on each year by Hood River Valley High School.

All of that food needs to be collected, delivered, sorted and packed, which takes an army of volunteers, coordinated again this year by Kym Zanmiller.

On the final day of packing, Holmson reiterated his appreciation for the generosity of everyone involved.

“I just want to thank the community and all the volunteers,” he said. “Everybody’s got the spirit this year.”

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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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