In an early October episode of Katie Couric’s talk show, the journalist pans for gold with the cast of “Gold Rush.”

Dave Turin, a cast member from Sandy, says the gold will be given to an important Portland-area charity.

Wednesday, Nov. 14, Turin and his wife, Shelley, a former nurse for the organization, presented Chairman Drake Snodgrass, Dr. Bob Sayson and Director Blake Petersen of Good News Center in Rockwood with two small bottles of gold valued at $1,800 each.

“This is one of my favorite charities,” Turin says of the nonprofit Christian health center that helps uninsured Rockwood residents. “They’re the real heroes.”

Whether or not you have gold to donate, there are dozens of ways to contribute to East County communities this holiday season — by volunteering, making charitable donations, participating in events and learning about social issues.

After working at the Sandy Community Action Center the past 20 years, Director Rita Ezard says despite comments indicating that rates of hunger and homelessness are improving, the center still sees a huge need.

Community concern, volunteerism and donations make a huge difference, but she encourages volunteers to recognize the year-round need in their communities — not just during the holidays.

“Our client count has grown so much,” Ezard says. “There should not be hunger in this country; it’s a sin.”

Don Peters, a longtime East County volunteer for three food banks, including Sandy Community Action Center, says he’d like to see more volunteer commitment in communities.

“I could work around the house, put in fewer hours and get more done than running up and down the road (volunteering), but it takes people to get these projects off and running. It’s important to try to help out and see what’s going on in your community. I got involved, and I can’t stay away.

“I’ve never been down in the dumps, but I’ve seen people who have been, and it really hurts. If we could get a few more people really dedicated and seeing what’s really going on, it’d make such a difference.”

Judy Alley, executive director of SnowCap Community Charities in Gresham, says the best thing community members can do to alleviate the need for charities is create job opportunities and a more vibrant economy.

“You don’t have to be Boeing or a big business to hire people,” she says. “To hire someone to clean your house, you create a way for that person to take home money and food to their family.”

Denise Martin, who has been staying in a Motel 6 in Troutdale with two puppies, her young son and everything she owns, trying to make it through 24 hours at a time, has a message she would like to relay to East County communities.

“We need to have a huge quantum awakening and shift in our hearts,” Martin says. “The need is so much bigger than you can imagine. Reach out and open your heart.”

Here are ways local residents can contribute to their communities during the coming weeks.



The youth organization AntFarm and the Sandy Historical Society are teaming up to sell noble fir Christmas trees and splitting the profits beginning Friday, Nov. 30. Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, AntFarm will be open with food and refreshments for community members who are alone or struggling with the holiday season. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 23-24, volunteers are invited to join AntFarm to harvest fall crops from its garden behind Suburban Auto and pack up the garden for the year. Volunteers also are invited to deck the halls at Avamere at Sandy on Dec. 5.

In addition, AntFarm is a part of a kickstarter campaign, “AntFarm Café and Bakery, a healthy community choice,” which, if it receives more than $30,000 in pledges by Tuesday, Dec. 4, would complete its self-sustaining cafe and bakery.

Clackamas Women’s Services


Instead of “adopting” families for the holiday season, Clackamas Women’s Services, an agency providing services in Sandy and Estacada, takes another approach by hosting a holiday store for its participants to shop for their families. “We’ve chosen to do it because often it feels more empowering and personal for moms to be able to pick out gifts for their kids,” says Kristin Schlotterbeck, prevention, education and youth programs manager. To learn more about donation items and hours, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Kiwanis Christmas Basket Program

Event Chairman Ken Hallgren


Kiwanis Community Christmas Baskets, P.O. Box 1261 Sandy, 97055

For 57 years, Sandy Kiwanis has organized a project that brightens the holidays of Sandy-area families by providing gift baskets. Students, Scouts, the Sandy fire and police departments, businesses, youth organizations and other community members come together to assemble more than 400 holiday gift baskets with gifts for children and food for several meals. Donate new, unwrapped toys; canned food; and money for the meat, fresh foods and additional canned food.

Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce

503-668-4006, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

38963 Pioneer Blvd., Sandy

Funds raised during the chamber’s 50-50 raffle at Good Morning and Good Evening Sandy will help two families in the Oregon Trail School District, one living in a tent and the other in a non-functioning camper. With $425 raised, the chamber has a goal of raising more than $200 to provide supplies to the families.

The current list of needs:

n One Stansport two-burner cast iron stove

n Two 40-quart aluminum stockpots

n Two Manchester 20-pound propane tanks with hoses

n Two 20-by-30-foot tarps

n Two 4-foot indoor/outdoor utility folding tables

n Two Coleman quick pack, double mantle lanterns

The families are also in need of warm clothing, and the Chamber is waiting to hear what sizes they need.

Sandy Community Action Center


38982 Pioneer Blvd., Sandy

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22, the center will hold its annual Santa Day. The center will fill more than 400 stockings with new toys for children of all ages from birth to 18 years. In addition, the center has an adopt-a-family program that sponsors a family for Christmas dinner and gifts.

Together for Better

Jim, Donna and Heather Cole


Two years ago, members of the Cole family from Sandy said they found their holiday spirit by witnessing 150 of their family members and friends doing something for the greater good — what they’ve dubbed the “Together for Better” project. In their third year of the project that brings essential resources to homeless people in downtown Portland, the Coles are focused on collecting blankets, backpacks, socks and coats. For more information and to get involved, visit the Facebook community page Together For Better.


Bogey’s Toy Drive

Owner Carolyn Bailey


1965 N.E. Division St., Gresham

Instead of receiving presents for her December birthday, Carolyn Bailey, the owner of Bogey’s Grill, decided to organize a toy drive. Beginning Friday, Nov. 23, Bogey’s will collect new, unwrapped toys for low-income children of all ages and donate them to SnowCap Charities.

Drug-Free Estacada Families and Youth


The High School Youth Coalition of DEFY is looking for a project for holiday service. The members have discussed adopting a family or working with another community organization, club or association in sharing the spirit of the season. To offer suggestions or an opportunity, contact Director Susie Tracy.

East Child Welfare holiday party for foster children

Caseworker Stacey Mahler


3618 S.E. 122nd Ave., Portland

For 13 years, East Child Welfare has provided a holiday party for children in the foster care system. The department welcomes donations for the Dec. 11 party — from decorations and utensils to gift cards for teens and items for its quarterly silent auctions that support the party throughout the year.

Estacada Area Adopt-A-Family Program

Janet Kiger-Hellard


The Estacada Area Food Bank seeks sponsoring families or organizations to adopt a needy family who lives in the Estacada, Eagle Creek or Colton areas for the holiday season. The Food Bank coordinates this program to match sponsors with families who need household items and clothing. Sponsoring families or organizations receive a specific list, and the sponsor selects and gift-wraps items from this list. All information is kept confidential.

Estacada Community Center


200 S.W. Club House Drive, Estacada

The Estacada Community Center always appreciates donations of money and food — especially turkeys during a season when it serves 12 to 20 turkeys by Jan. 1. For Thanksgiving, the center is holding a dinner at noon, served by the Estacada Fire Department. The center will host a variety of low-cost events and meals throughout December.

Gresham Elks Lodge No. 1805 Christmas baskets

Co-chairmen Bill Hay and Jim Foreman


3330 N.E. Division St., Gresham

For 44 years, The Gresham Elks have delivered Christmas baskets to families in need, picking families suggested by local schools and charities. “We deliver 150 boxes of food, and we include enough food for three or four days plus Christmas Day dinner,” Public Relations Chairwoman Betty Chisum says. “We add a turkey, sack of potatoes and a sack of apples with each box. We need cans of vegetables, corn, beans, soup, peanut butter and anything a family would eat.”

Good News Community Health Center


18000 S.E. Stark St., Portland

“We’re always looking for dentists and their staffs to volunteer a day a month,” says Dr. Bob Sayson of Good News Center. “When you go out for a job, you want to feel good smiling.” Along with medical volunteers, the clinic appreciates financial donations that can help provide services such as dentures for homeless people and scholarships for services. The clinic also partners with churches to reach out to the homeless population.

Medical Teams International Giving Tuesday donation drive

Communications Coordinator Angela Pratt


Medical Teams International is participating in a new national movement, GivingTuesday, that emphasizes charitable giving. Through Tuesday, Nov. 27, Medical Teams International will accept donations of hygiene supplies for distribution to 70 service agencies in the metro area. Between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, Medical Teams will accept gallon-size Ziploc bags, combs and hairbrushes, bars of soap, wash cloths, toothpaste and toothbrushes. While its office is located at 14150 S.W. Milton Court in Tigard, Pratt said buying gifts through the organization’s online gift catalog or donating personal care items through the website is another way to contribute.

SnowCap Community Charities

503-674-8785, ext. 37, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

17788 S.E. Pine St., Portland

SnowCap has several ideas for how East County residents can contribute to the community during the holidays, from hosting their own food drives at annual holiday events to volunteering with family members. Contact Kari James, special projects coordinator. Residents are encouraged to donate their empty bottles and cans, which can result in hundreds of dollars each month, and to buy SnowCap auction tickets ($60) as holiday gifts for the Feb. 9, 2013, event. SnowCap also encourages residents to consider donating their cars, trucks or boats to the organization, which is tax deductible. Donations of food, clothes and new toys are received at the warehouse door from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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