(Margaret Doherty represents House District 35 in the Oregon Legislature. Her district encompasses Tigard, King City, Metzger, part of Southwest Portland and part of Beaverton.)

I love the holidays! And whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or anything else, I wish you a safe and happy holiday season. As we gather with family and friends, it's a great time to think about the things that really matter to us in life.

Unfortunately, this recession has left too many suffering here in Tigard and across the state and country. We need to work to fight this recession and get Oregon moving again.

In the Oregon Legislature we are working to help get people back into the work force, with programs like Connect Oregon IV, which will invest $40 million in Oregon's infrastructure and put construction workers back on the job across the state. We have other programs led by Business Oregon designed to help spur employment.

There are also other things we can do to help make a difference in people's lives, the Oregon Judiciary just established new rules to allow for more waivers of court fees for people who are experiencing financial hardship. This will ensure that all Oregonians have access to the courts, regardless of means.

As a community, we are lucky enough to have many wonderful charities that help support our fellow citizens and some of the most vulnerable in our state and community. If you have the means or the time, please consider donating to these worthy organizations. If, on the other hand, you are in need, these are some of the many places you can look to for a helping hand.

The Oregon Food Bank supports many emergency food pantries across Oregon, helping to feed thousands of hungry Oregonians. The sad truth is that hunger is one of most serious issues facing our state. The Oregon Food Bank supports several food pantries in Tigard. Two of them that you can help are St. Vincent de Paul at St. Anthony's (503-639-4179, 12630 S.W. Grant Ave., Tigard) and Barb's Pantry at Tigard Covenant Church (503-639-3084, 11321 S.W. Naeve St., Tigard). They accept donations of both money and non-perishable food.

There are also organizations dedicated to not only getting homeless families off the street, but into a new life. One of them is the Good Neighbor Center (503-443-6084, 11130 S.W. Greenburg Road, Tigard). You can find a list of specific household goods they need and other ways to help out at

Another great program is the Loaves and Fishes/Meals-on-Wheels program operated by the Tigard Senior Center (503-620-4613, 8815 S.W. O'Mara St., Tigard) It works to keep seniors fed and independent. The program prefers money donations to food ones, as they have strict rules about what food is acceptable.

Another program I want to emphasize is looking for something a little different: Coats. Specifically coats for kids. The Community Action Head Start organization of Washington County is looking to provide under-served classrooms with new coats for their students. If you would like to donate coats or financial support you can go to Tigard City Hall Permit Center (13125 S.W. Hall Blvd.) and drop them off with Kent Wyatt at 503-718-2809 (City Hall is closed on Jan. 2) or the Hillsboro Main Service Center (1001 S.W. Baseline St., Hillsboro, 97123). For more information, you can call Lisa Brown 503-693-3230.

If you, or someone you know, is in need don't be afraid to look for a helping hand from these organizations. One of the many things I love about Tigard is that we have so many wonderful organizations willing to help out the community.

I am not alone in thinking Tigard is an amazing place to live. The city of Tigard recently conducted a survey of its citizens to find out what is on your minds. They found out a lot of good information, but something that really stuck out, was the fact that nearly everyone agreed that Tigard is a great place to live. If you would like to see the full results of the community survey, they are online at the city of Tigard's website. If you have any trouble finding them, you can call my office at 971-258-8002.

Living in such a wonderful community is something to be very grateful for this season!

I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season. Have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a good Kwanzaa and a happy new year.

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