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Giving Locally

Our invigorated spirit of sharing needs to be manifest close to home<BR>

Compassionate.

That word sums up the continuing generousity of Hood River County residents in response to the Sept. 11 tragedy.

American Red Cross coffers have been greatly enriched by coin drives, "One Day's Pay" campaign, raffles, and numerous other donation campaigns throughout the community in the past month.

Locally, similar efforts are still in the works to help the victims of the New York City and Washington, D.C. tragedies, and that is as it should be.

Yet as harrowing -- and enduring -- as the effects of the East Coast tragedy are, other needs in the local community will also need addressing with the spirit of giving that has become a national theme. That spirit has been so vivid and heartfelt that it is easy to envision the same type of giving sustained for local groups.

Charity organizations nationwide are beginning the feel the pinch as they attempt to raise funds for ongoing programs and services to serve the elderly, the needy, the disabled, and underprivileged children.

This is a concern to local organizations such as Hood River United Way. The largest social service benefit fundraising group in the county is about to embark on its 2001 campaign. Letters go out next week to past donors and to businesses asking for donations and payroll deductions to support nearly 30 agencies helping the needy in Hood River County.

The group has worked for years to get to the level they are now; last year's campaign raised nearly $100,000 in Hood River County. The needs will be greater when the 2001 campaign is distributed next year, given the regional economic difficulties, private industry layoffs, and retraction of services now provided by state and federal governments.

As United Way manager Rosie Thomas-Wiley puts it, "don't let the ripple effect come into Hood River County.

"The Sept. 11 disaster had its tragedy and wonderful things come out of it but the negative ripple effect economically and emotionally is being felt across the country.

"The concern of many charities is that the people to whom we are providing services do not become additional victims," Wiley said.

(United Way received an $84 kick-start Thursday when a certain former mayor won a drawing for that amount at the Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours event.

"Give it to United Way," he said, holding up the cash and passing to Thomas-Wiley.)

Whatever the source -- a windfall or inspiration from our invigorated sense of sharing -- local organizations will need to receive the proceeds of that spirit.

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