Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Jan. 20, 2021

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Vancouver nonprofit assembles gift bags for Clark County caregivers

Loving Them Forward sets up drive-thru event to distribute them

By , Columbian sports staff
Published:
5 Photos
Debbie Russell, treasurer and co-founder of nonprofit group Loving Them Forward, helps make gift baskets to be given out to caregivers in Clark County.
Debbie Russell, treasurer and co-founder of nonprofit group Loving Them Forward, helps make gift baskets to be given out to caregivers in Clark County. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Everything in Christina Keys’ garage seemed to be working as smooth as an assembly line could.

Then a crash.

“We’ve got a job opening!” Keys shouted. Everyone laughed.

Keys is the president of the nonprofit Loving Them Forward, a Vancouver group created to help those who give help.

On Wednesday, volunteers and members of Loving Them Forward were assembling 300 gift bags in Keys’ garage for their upcoming drive-thru event A Caregiver Christmas. Any professional or family caregiver in Clark County is welcome to come and get a gift bag as an appreciation for what they do.

Keys explained that charity drives “don’t really focus on the caregivers. We are on a mission to get them heard and known.”

Thirty sponsors ranging from Dutch Bros Coffee, Kangen Water Store, Home Instead, Mikeys House at Keller Williams and many others, was well as countless individuals, have donated to the gift bags.

“It’s just the whole community saying we appreciate you and thanks for what you do,” Keys said of the outpouring of donations for A Caregiver Christmas. “This will give (caregivers) their moment because they might not be able to have one otherwise.”

Any caregiver in Clark County can drive through from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday or from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday at A Caring Closet, 1206-C N.E. 146th St., Vancouver. Caregivers can choose their gift as bags are specifically designed for men or women.

The event is designed to be pandemic safe by limiting the number of volunteers. Everyone will be wearing masks and gloves while social distancing and making it contactless.

“An event like this has never been done in Clark County,” Keys said. “And no other county in the U.S. is doing it. I’m getting lots of calls from all over about it.”

Of course, more donations are always welcome. Things like blankets, toiletries, shoe cushions, cellphone accessories, and books are just a few examples.

“Something to distract from the beeping of the machines,” said Michael Harding, the military veteran liaison for Loving Them Forward and a real estate agent at Keller Williams.

Cash donations can be given through the nonprofit’s website lovingthemforward.org or call 360-524-4344 about ways to give. Loving Them Forward can also be found on social media through Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Keys said an Amazon gift list was made and lots of donations have come through that.

“Anything will help,” she said. “Clark County has a huge heart and so many have stepped up to say thank you to all the family, private and professional caregivers.”

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