Giving brightens the holidays

Locally, groups demonstrate the holiday spirit with acts of generosity and goodwill

The spirit of giving and goodwill seems particularly strong in our communities this year. Scout and civic groups, businesses, churches, schools and individuals have contacted the Lake Oswego Review and West Linn Tidings offices wishing to spread the word about their efforts to raise funds or collect toys, food or care package items to share with others. We've brought you stories about folks in West Linn preparing special smoked chicken dinners for 30 families. We've told you about Lions taking children shopping for new shoes, cops helping children shop for Christmas gifts for themselves and their families, teens collecting record amounts of canned food for the Oregon Food Bank. Here are just a few more examples of the good local folks are doing for others:

* Cub Scout Pack 128 from Forest Hills Elementary has been working since summer on their effort to ensure that Bravo Company 122nd, stationed at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan had care packages, treats and letters this holiday season. The scouts collected more than 100 boxes - more than 1,000 pounds - of snacks, sporting equipment and necessary items for the servicemen and women. The troops were overwhelmed as illustrated in a letter the pack received from Commanding Major Kenric M. Smith:

'As we received your boxes we were in amazement on how much effort and 'love' had gone into these packages. It touches us deeply to think that although you may not know us and we may not know you personally, you donated so much time, effort and money into these packages. In the next few days we will fly a flag on a combat mission over Afghanistan in your honor. We will send you the flag along with a certificate and I hope that it can repay a little of the generosity that you have shown us. We will also send you some pictures of our soldiers enjoying their gifts.'

The pack had sent such abundance that some of the boxes were forwarded to servicemen and women in more remote areas, who probably would not have received any packages from home.

But the relationship doesn't stop there. The pack recently got together for a Skype call with Bravo ASB 122. The soldiers are sending their unit's patch to the scouts to wear on their uniforms.

By the way, the scouts raised $800 of the $1,600 needed to ship the boxes to arrive in time for Christmas. If you want to donate money to help them cover that cost, contact pack leader Al Nodarse at 503-819-7540.

* Students in West Linn High School's leadership class participated in Operation Christmas Stocking this season. Founded three years ago by teenager Leslie Garrick of Oregon City and her family, the project buys Christmas stockings and fills them with stocking caps, scarves, gloves, razors, toothbrush, tooth paste and other hygiene items and Christmas treats. The teens then delivered the stockings to homeless in downtown Portland, along with hot coffee, cocoa, Christmas cookies and other goodies. They sang Christmas carols and spread more than a little Christmas cheer.

* More than 100 Lake Oswego Rotarians, Rotoractors (Rotary's youth club), family members and friends took care of Christmas for 44 Lake Oswego families. As has been the club's tradition for the past 8 or 9 years, members donated items to provide each family with a ham dinner and all the fixings, fresh fruit, vegetables and staples plus a gift for every child.

'We load up the boxes with food and toys and then sing Christmas carols, enjoy holiday goodies,' said Rotarian Craig Childress.

Rotarian Peter Jurney was one of the lucky ones who got to deliver boxes.

'The people are so grateful,' he said. 'I delivered to a single mom with three kids and the kids helped me bring the boxes in. I had two boxes of food and one with the presents. The kids' eyes got really wide when they saw that box. It's just something that makes you feel good.'

* The West Linn Brownies of Troop 45525 put their efforts into bettering the lives of cats and kittens at PAWS cat shelter in West Linn. They made craft items and sold them at the holiday gift bazaar at Athey Creek raising $241 to donate to the shelter.

* Fourth and fifth graders at Sunset Primary School in West Linn stocked the shelves of the West Linn Food Pantry with items collected during the school's annual canned food drive. In three short weeks, nearly 3,000 cans were collected.

* Focusing on the idea that it is never to early or late to learn to share, the families of Community Arts Preschool handmade 20 scarves, filled children's Christmas stockings and collected 362 pounds of food for the Neighborhood House in Multnomah Village. The Neighborhood House helps families facing hunger and homelessness.