By BOB WOOD
For the Hood River News
Students clad in white t-shirts flooded local businesses on Friday in an effort to raise money to benefit two local charities. This year’s beneficiaries of Community Work Day are Hospice of the Gorge and Community Education.
“We had around 342 students working,” said CWD Chairperson Nolan Johnson, a Hood River Valley High School student. “After our costs, we’re hoping to make about $11,000 that will be split between the two charities.” These figures are up from the $10,000 that the 325 student workers made during last year’s event.
This year marked the sixth year for CWD, which originally started as a coordinated effort between FBLA and the school’s ASB, but now it is solely the ASB’s responsibility. “It’s our way to get students some work experience,” said Activities Director Bob Kadell. “We are able to generate a lot of money for charity in one day, and it’s a good opportunity for the community to give to its own.”
Johnson, along with fellow chairpersons Katie Flory, Anna Hidle and Candice Hoag, worked hard to pull the event together. “It’s a lot more work than people think,” commented Hoag. “We had to talk to the teachers, the administrators, and then we had to get the students excited about it. After the students are done with their work, we still have to give the money to the agencies. The work starts in January and ends in June, but it’s great to give to the community.”
Although students are able to simply donate the $39 minimum and miss a day of school, many of them don’t mind doing work for a day. “I do so much community service already,” stated Michelle Connors, who worked at Holstein’s Coffee Co. for the day, “so working and donating money isn’t a big deal for me.”
The work that students do ranges from yard work for their parents to making coffee to simply helping organizations. Six freshman girls, under the supervision of soon-to-be Hospice of the Gorge Executive Director Deborah Whiting Jaques and Paul Lindberg, helped to stuff 6,000 envelopes at Dethman Manor for Hospice of the Gorge. “We’re really appreciative of Dethman Manor for letting us use their facilities,” Jaques said.
The letters will ask for donations and grants to help Hospice fund a new building in the Eliot Woods Business Park. “We’ve raised $55,000 already,” Lindberg said, “and we’re looking to raise the rest ($545,000) through donations and grants.”
“At first I thought, ‘Cool, we get to get out of school for a day,’” said Christa Chandler, one of the girls stuffing envelopes, “but then I thought about how nice it is to give to charity.” All of the girls agreed that it felt good to contribute to a good cause.
Employers feel good about giving to the community, too, and they also think of the preparation for life that kids are receiving through participating. “It’s a great opportunity for young people heading into the job world to get a taste of what it’s really like,” said Shane Langston, owner of Holstein’s Coffee Co., “and it also lets kids find possible summer jobs.”
All in all, students generally felt the same about their services. In the words of the girls who worked for Hospice, “We’re happy to give back to the community.”
Bob Wood wrote this article as part of his Community Work Day duties at the Hood River News.