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July 9 editorial: Flags raised, relay for life

July 9, 2011

Flags Raised

Secretary of State, Heroes Club,

both help soldiers

Americans share a concern for the welfare of the men and women in service, no matter what political feelings they might have.

And while foreign policy discussions on American military engagement can seem both distant and dizzying, there are at least two practical ways - one imminent, the other ongoing - Gorge residents can make a difference in our soldiers' lives:

Gorge Heroes Club has linked with Relay for Life on July 16-17 to collect "care package" donations for men and women serving overseas. GHC sends care packages to more than 700 service men and women in Afghanistan and Iraq.

You can give at the Relay, which benefits American Cancer Society, visit the GHC Facebook page, or email ghc@gorge.net to learn more.

The other is the newly revived program, announced last week by Secretary of State Kate Brown, to provide Oregon flags to soldiers serving overseas. (Details on page A8.)

Brown and state Sen. Betsy Johnson of Scappoose and State Rep. Sal Esquivel of Medford revived the Secretary of State's Flag Fund with the assistance of generous private donations. Johnson's father, Sam, worked with then-Secretary of State Clay Myers to start the fund in the 1960s, and Esquivel was a soldier in Vietnam who found comfort in the war zone upon receiving an Oregon flag.

As Brown put it, "At a time when our nation continues to deploy troops overseas, I believe it is important to show support for these men and women in any way we can. Sending them a piece of home is a small token of our appreciation and gratitude."

The average cost of each flag is approximately $30. Donations to the Secretary of State Flag Fund can be sent to Secretary of State's Office, c/o Flag Fund, Business Services Division, 255 Capitol St. N.E., Salem, OR 97310 or by calling 503-986-2204.

Relay for Life

Food donations will do double duty

The Gorge Heroes Club effort at Relay for Life (above) is not the only novel connection created this year at the event.

There's also the canned food donation, with a twist that's both useful and, well, canny.

Participants are asked to bring a canned food donation to the Relay. Simple enough: The food will go to the Odell FISH food bank after the relay.

But they will also be a real help during the event: In a poignant dual use for the cans, they will first serve as anchors for the luminaria that are placed along track to remember a loved one or honor a cancer survivor.

So the cans will not only keep the illuminated and decorated paper bags from being blown by the wind but also be passed along to those in our community who are in need of food support.

Anyone can come to the Relay to show support, be it moral, financial, and now, nutritional. It all happens at the Hood River County Fairgrounds between 10 a.m. Saturday, July 16, with the opening ceremony and survivor walk, and 9 a.m. Sunday.

And while the event is just a week away, it is not too late to form a team. For more information on getting involved with Relay for Life contact Veronica Moline, team development chair, at rjmoline@live.com or 541-490-1722, or visit www.RelayForLife.org/columbiagorgeor.

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