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Getting Aboard: United Way kicks off 2013 campaign

The theme is exotic but the need is close to home.

“Evening in Tuscany” kicks off the United Way of the Columbia Gorge 2013 fundraising campaign on Sept. 19 (details on page A2). It is a big part — $60,000 raised at the 2012 event — but only one part of what United Way does.

Trips to foreign places including Tuscany, in Italy, are among the high-end prizes supporters will take away next week.

The journeys made possible by United Way campaign are about nutrition, a warm place to sleep, literacy, health care, counseling, life skills and parenting training, mentorship, shelter from abuse, and more programs.

“This event plays a big, big role in what we do,” said Gordy Sato, United Way board member.

“It’s a matter of closing the gap between what is needed and what we have to allocate,” he said.

In the summer of 2013 United Way issued checks totaling $155,000 to agencies in Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Skamania and Klickitat counties.

The goal this year is $200,000, the largest ever, by far, for United Way.

“Tuscany” in 2012 raised $60,000, and organizers are hoping to top that this year, said Alison Church, United Way coordinator. “Tuscany” replaced the previously successful “Luau.”

Sept. 19-21 will be a busy weekend for United Way, with a new event in The Dalles on Friday, at Clock Tower Ales, a concert by the band Hit Machine (details on page A3) and Saturday’s Golden Man Triathlon in Goldendale (www.goldendalepool.com) which will donate proceeds to the school backpack programs in Goldendale and White Salmon.

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And so begins the hard work of United Way, as volunteers and agency representatives go to employers to make the appeal to support United Way via corporate gifts and employee payroll deductions.

As Church puts it, “to inspire people to help and be a part of helping people.”

United Way funds stay in the community and work for the people for whom they are intended. If you as an employee or employer have not yet gotten on board the campaign, consider doing so soon. Call Church for details at 541-386-6100. Donations can be made to the United Way general fund, or designated for a specific agency.

“We are so thankful for the generosity of the many companies and individuals in this community who are helping us unite resources to support critical programs in the Columbia Gorge,” Church said.

“Tuscany” will surely be a great deal of fun, but the key is to look beyond the event, lift people up and give them passports to better lives.

Cross Country -- One time only this season: runners are worth a look

Blink and you might miss it.

The Skip Sparks-Bob Sullivan Invitational is today at Hood River Valley High School.

This is the one and only cross country race in Hood River this season, and it’s a great opportunity to see young athletes give their best. They include HRVHS senior Grace Grim, the defending state cross country individual champion, and a very talented Eagle squad.

Ten high school teams will participate in the 4 p.m. event at Henderson Community Stadium. Kicking things off will be a three-team middle school race at 3 p.m., making it a local running extravaganza. (The weather prediction is sunny and hot, which is a mixed bag for the runners.)

If you don’t think cross country is a spectator sport, try the race at HRVHS and see what an enjoyable afternoon it can be. In fact, you CAN blink and still see plenty. The course is laid out so that you can sit in the stands, or find a place near the track, and catch the runners several times during the race, or walk 100 or so yards from one spot to another and see even more action.

It is the only chance to see the high school runners this season in Hood River. If you can free your schedule by 4 p.m., head out to HRVHS and cheer on these hard-working athletes.

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