How to Help: Ways to give locally during the holiday season

Every season is a time of need for some people in this and any community.

But the holidays, with the combination of cold weather and economic pressures, creates a heightened urgency to do something for those among us who are lacking resources.

From “Share the Warmth” to the Warming Shelter, community groups, businesses and individuals are coming together to fill some gaps, add some layers, and lend a hand. Do you wonder how you can make a difference in all this? Hood River News is again this year providing an ongoing listing we call “How to Help.”

FISH commemorative brick

Purchase a commemorative brick to support the FISH Food Bank this holiday season. Bricks will line the entryway to the Hood River FISH Food Bank site, and can honor loved ones or special friends, recognize an organization, share an inspirational thought, or show support of FISH. Purchases help support the mission of FISH to supply nutritious food to Hood River County residents in need of help. Orders will be taken until Jan. 15. The application form can be found online at Brick%20Purchase% 20Form.pdf.

‘Warming the Gorge’

It’s that time of year again — time to make things for others as the holidays grow near. Some are not lucky enough to have anyone to make warm things for them, which is why Yvonne Ellsworth and Sarah Keller started the Warming the Gorge campaign in 2015. Warm, handknit or crocheted items are being collected at Knot Another Hat for local warming shelters in Hood River and The Dalles, as well as for The Next Door, Helping Hands, and the people of Cascade Locks.

Items, grouped by need, preferably in washable wool or another washable fiber, are as follows:

• Hood River Warming Shelter: Warm items for men.

• The Dalles Warming Place: Hats and mittens for men and women.

• The Next Door: Handknit baby items and any sized child items.

• Helping Hands Women's Shelter: Prayer shawls. You don’t necessarily need to pray. Essentially a prayer shawl is a scarf or shawl where thoughts of hope and healing are said or thought while making the item. Those thoughts are embedded in the garment and will help those who wear it through a tough time.

• City of Cascade Locks: Warm items for men, women, and children to include in FISH food baskets.

Bring items to Knot Another Hat any time until Dec. 17.

Warming Shelter

Hood River Warming Shelter, a service of Hood River Shelter Services ( is open nightly at Riverside Community Church in Hood River. For questions about volunteering and donating items, email Warm goods are needed, including gloves and sleeping bags.

Each overnight stay contains three shifts: 5-7 a.m. (wakeup, checkout and cleanup), 5:45-10:15 p.m. (setup, intake and service), and 10:15 p.m. to 5:15 a.m. (evening prep and overnight watch).

Returning volunteers are asked to sign up for their first shifts at the email above, or if they have not yet received the scheduling link.

For those who wish to donate physical items, the shelter is always in need of heavy winter gloves and sleeping bags. Email to arrange for pickup or drop-off.

The shelter also needs volunteers to sign up for the Laundry Love program. Coins and laundry detergent — and about three hours a week once a month — are needed.

Laundry Love Coordinator Alicia Speidel explained that volunteers meet Warming Shelter guests at the laundromat at a designated time with quarters and detergent so guests can do laundry.

Share the Warmth

Windermere brokers will be collecting new or gently used coats and blankets of all sizes to benefit the local community, which will be distributed to those in need by local charities and shelters.

The public can stop by participating Windermere offices to drop off donations as follows:

• Cascade Locks: 651 WaNaPa St.

• Hood River: 504 Cascade Ave. and 315 Oak St.

• Bingen: 900 West Steuben St.

• Stevenson: 220 Southwest Second St.

• The Dalles: 122 E Second St.

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