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How to help, updated for Nov. 18

Start-up operations for the 2015 Hood River County Christmas Project have begun.

Visit the hoodrivercountychristmasproject.com website to learn more about how to volunteer or sponsor a family.

Applications will be taken at the following locations and dates:

Cascade Locks — Cascade Locks City Hall (FISH Food Bank) on Wednesday, Nov. 18 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Hood River — Oregon Department of Human Services, 1610 9th Court on the Heights off of Pacific Ave., on Fridays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov, 20 and Dec. 4, and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov., 21 and Dec. 5.

Odell — Odell Food Bank, 3440 Odell Highway during 3:30-6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3.

Parkdale — Parkdale Community Church during Food Bank hours (4-6 p.m.) on Monday, Nov. 23.

Applicants can sign up at whichever location is most convenient for them.

The program benefits many families in need from Hood River County that meet State of Oregon Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. A Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) card or an Oregon Health Plan (OHP) card also meets the registration requirements. Families wishing to apply will need to bring proof of eligibility and residency. In each of the last five years about 500 families (over 2,000 men, women, and children) have received support.

Socks for Seniors is a non-profit community service project that organizes, collects and distributes new socks for seniors living alone, in nursing homes or on the streets.

Socks for Seniors is looking for volunteers in Hood River County to host a sock drive. It all starts with one person, one box and one location. It’s easy — and all the socks stay in the local area. To start a Socks for Seniors drive, visit www.socksforseniors.com.

“Each year, thousands of lonely and financially challenged seniors struggle with the holiday blues,” reads the Socks for Seniors press release. “They dread facing the holiday season alone … Socks for Seniors and its volunteers have only one priority this holiday season, and that is to bring holiday cheer, along with a new pair of socks, to warm the hearts and cover the cold feet of our elderly seniors.”

The “Share the Warmth” coat and blanket drive, a long-standing tradition for Windermere Realty offices throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, kicked off Nov. 2 in 31 offices, including five in the Gorge serving as donation drop-off sites. Community members are invited to take part and help their neighbors in need this winter by donating coats and blankets to Windermere offices in Bingen, Hood River, Stevenson and The Dalles through Dec. 18.

Bring new or gently used and laundered coats (for children and adults) and blankets to the following Windermere offices during the designated drop-off hours:

Bingen — 900 W. Steuben, Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Hood River — 504 Cascade Avenue and 315 Oak Street, Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Stevenson — 220 SW Second Street, Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Dalles — 122 E 2nd Street, Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Donated items will be distributed to those in need by local charities and shelters.

Local churches and FISH are coordinating a community meal — open to anyone, regardless of income — on Nov. 26 from 1-5 p.m. at Riverside, Fourth and State streets.

Food donors are already lined up, and donations will be accepted on the day of the meal, but advance donations can be made by sending checks to the church, P.O. Box 656, Hood River, OR 97031, or by going to a financial link at the event Facebook page, Thanksgiving in the Gorge.

Food preparation help is needed along with servers, greeters, cleanup, and drivers to take food to homes of guests who request it.

To help, contact Gean Rains at 541-806-0900 or Debby Chenoweth at 541-399-2384.

Cooking will be overseen by Chef Kathy Watson, in the FISH commercial kitchen at the new headquarters on Tucker Road. Deliveries will be organized from that location. Meals for about 400 are planned.

Columbia River Gorge Operation Christmas Child (OCC): For those not familiar with OCC, shoeboxes are packed with items such as school supplies, toys, hygiene materials and sometimes even clothing for needy children and orphans ages 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14. In addition, children receive a copy of the Christmas story in their native language. The program runs under the umbrella of Samaritan’s Purse, an international organization chaired by Franklin Graham.

Last year, Gorge-area participants filled 2,747 shoeboxes, and organizers are hoping to fill even more this year. Covenant Christian Church, located at 455 Frankton Road, will serve as OCC’s new drop off center as follows:

Through Nov. 19 — 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Nov. 20 — 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.

Nov. 21 — 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Nov. 22 — 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Nov. 23 — 9-10 a.m. (truck leaves at 10 a.m. for Vancouver)

For more information on dropping off filled shoeboxes, contact Angie Olmstead, relay center coordinator, at 541-490-7914. All other questions can be directed to Dianna Tomson, OCC community relations, at 541-400-9523.

Additional information can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com /crgoccnetwork.

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