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Giving: Its about community

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Community.

I can't think of a better word to describe Lake Oswego.

The problem for people who don't live in a real community is that they don't understand the significance of the word. They can't appreciate what it is like to live in a city that is a real community - where everyone rallies around one common goal, pulls together and achieves great things.

Lake Oswego is on the cusp of doing just this.

At a time when it seems that our community is polarized over issues like streetcar or the West End Building, it is inspiring to me that we, as a community, can put these differences aside and come together in an effort to save our schools and support our children.

With a deficit of $5.5 million facing our school district and the reality of school closures looming, our community has come together to do something I'm sure not many other communities could do.

Parents have rallied to support their children and their schools. Civic and business leaders have stepped up to lead the way. The city of Lake Oswego has committed significant dollars to support the cause. Local businesses are making contributions. All are leading by example, and it's time for those on the sideline to step-up and do the same.

Yes, the future is uncertain. Yes, we don't know if schools will close. But what we do know is that we as a community have begun to take control of a situation that no one else has for the past 20 years.

What we, as a community, have done is provide hope to many that maybe, just maybe, we can work through this ourselves.

And really, in a community like Lake Oswego, it is true that one or two families could easily put the Lake Oswego School District Foundation's goal of $5 million over the top with one call.

But now is not the time to wait for a white knight to ride to our rescue. We've been waiting for 20 years for the state to do this, and many have given up hope that our state legislators will ever find the political courage or will to solve this problem.

Instead, in true community fashion, many families have stepped up to collectively make this difference.

And as we get closer to our goal, now is the time for the real hard work to continue. With as much success and hope that we have achieved in just a few weeks, everyone in the Lake Oswego community has to remain vigilant and push through the last phase of this campaign.

We can't FAIL our schools when we are so close. We have to continue to remind our friends and neighbors who don't have kids of what the value of strong schools means to our community, to our property values and, most importantly, to our children's futures.

We can do this Lake Oswego. Our community is already the envy of many around the state. With some heavy lifting we can be the envy around the country.

Can Lake Oswego solve the school funding crisis? I'm not sure. But what I do know is that we are about to do something no one thought was possible.

As Lake Oswego School Superintendent Dr. Bill Korach says, 'Education is about hope, possibility and opportunity.'

Through hope, we all can imagine the possibilities and it is up to all of us in this great community to seize this opportunity.

If you haven't done so, please donate to the Lake Oswego School District Foundation by going to its website at www.losdfoundation.org.

If your business would like to support the cause, please contact Mary Puskas at the Lake Oswego School Foundation office at 503-534-2106.

J. Brian Monihan is publisher of the Lake Oswego Review and the West Linn Tidings and is vice president of advertising of both Community Newspapers and the Portland Tribune.