Once again, the Hood River County Christmas Project has spread Christmas cheer to families who might not have had any otherwise.
Heading the project again this year was Bruce Holmson, who said that around 500 families — 2,100 individuals — received Christmas packages.
“It’s been right around that number for the last several years,” he said, “give or take 5 percent.”
Giving was up this year, he said. Donated funds are used to purchase a new toy for the children in each family, and food to augment the donated food; whatever is left is used to provide a gift card for each family, so that families may purchase perishable foods.
“This year we were able to give gift cards worth $27,” Holmson said. “Last year it was $23; the year before, $20; and the year before that, $15. The community has really stepped up this year.”
In addition to individual donations, the project receives many dollars from fundraisers such as the Annual Gala Fashion Show, held Nov. 16 this year, and grants from groups like the Lions and United Way.
Food donations come from every which way, including drop boxes at participating merchants and the huge canned food drive put on each year by Hood River Valley High School.
All of that food needs to be collected, delivered, sorted and packed, which takes an army of volunteers, coordinated again this year by Kym Zanmiller.
On the final day of packing, Holmson reiterated his appreciation for the generosity of everyone involved.
“I just want to thank the community and all the volunteers,” he said. “Everybody’s got the spirit this year.”