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Christmas sweaters enliven fun event with Mayor Shane Bemis and Bess Wills of Gresham Ford.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Bess Wills of Gresham Ford dressed as the Grinch. As the event went on, her heart grew from the generosity of the local community.The Grinch wasn't able to steal Christmas or the giving spirit of East Multnomah County this year as hundreds came together to support three important nonprofits that work to eliminate poverty, hunger and homelessness.

The Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce presented its Christmas Breakfast Friday morning, Dec. 8, at Pathway Church, 3848 N.E. Division St., where local business owners and community members could open up their checkbooks in support of Human Solutions, My Father's House and SnowCap Community Charities.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Andy Miller of Human Solutions, Kirsten Wageman of SnowCap Community Charities and Cathe Wiese of My Father's House. "There are a lot of people in our community who could use some Christmas cheer," said Gresham Fire Chief Greg Matthews, who helped present the event. "The people you are donating to are families in need."

There was excitement in the air as the people who attended laughed and showed off their holiday spirit. The table sponsors had decorated using different themes — including a wedding chapel, winter wonderland and pirate's saloon. Many showed off their favorite ugly Christmas sweaters. Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis went all out with a red, holiday-themed suit.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - The Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce held its Christmas Breakfast to help raise donations to support three local nonprofit organizations. No outfit beat out Gresham Ford's Bess Wills, who played the part of the Grinch. As in the Dr. Seuss tale, her heart grew bigger as the event went on, reflecting the growing generosity of those in the community. Her get-up also played on the problems of last year, when the Christmas Breakfast had to be canceled because of winter weather. Or, as the Gresham Chamber's CEO Lynn Snodgrass explained, because "the Grinch stole Christmas."

"Every day I think of something to be thankful for, and today it was easy," said Cathe Wiese, executive director of My Father's House. "Looking out at all of you — you are so gracious and giving."

OUTLOOK PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Lynn Snodgrass, Gresham Chamber CEO, helped host the Chirstmas Breakfast event. Many of her lines ended in a rhyme.The event raised $10,987 for the charities that morning, which will be split among the three. In addition to the monetary donations, there was an auction, and Gresham Animal Hospital left blank checks for each table to fill out toward a charity of their choice. This was the biggest turnout ever for the Christmas Breakfast. In 2015, they raised $9,768.

"Thank you for finding ways to give in a fun way," said Kirsten Wageman, executive director of SnowCap. "It's not always such a serious thing."

Human Solutions works to help low-income and homeless families and individuals gain self-sufficiency by providing affordable housing, family support services, job readiness training and economic development opportunities. They can be contacted at 503-548-0200.

SnowCap, an organization created to provide food, clothing, advocacy and other services to the poor, can be reached at 503-674-8785.

My Father's House is a shelter ministry that works to meet the needs of homeless families by providing a safe environment for families to address spiritual, physical and emotional needs. Connect with them at 503-492-3046.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis was recognized for his ugly Christmas zoot suit during the charity breakfast event.

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