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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.
News / Opinion / Editorials

Cheers & Cheers: Making a difference, friendship

The Columbian
Published: December 23, 2023, 6:03am

It is a season for joy and glad tidings. So, The Columbian’s Editorial Board will eschew the jeers as it presents its weekly roundup of local news items. This week we offer nothing but cheers.

Cheers: To thinking of others. A recent article by Columbian reporter Alexis Weisand highlights 12 local organizations that can use donations of time or supplies over the holidays. As one local charity organizer said, “It especially makes the difference at this time of the year because a lot of us are having trouble and just having that smile and that just, ‘Hey, I see you,’ makes all the difference in the world.”

According to Giving USA, Americans donated $499 billion to charities in 2022, along with countless volunteer hours and untold amounts of clothes and household items. They all can make a difference, and there are hundreds of local charities that are working to improve the lives of people in our community.

Cheers: To a toy drive. Three students at Hockinson High School organized a toy drive to benefit Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland. For senior Sophia Sermone, the effort is personal; her brother has received care at Doernbecher.

As of last week, the students were close to their goal of collecting 300 toys for donation, and one organizer explained, “Most people have been going to school together since elementary school and even before that. It’s just so cool to see everyone come together.” Notably, all three organizers are members of the school’s chapter of Future Business Leaders of America, which helps create opportunities for students and foster community; apparently, they are taking the lessons to heart.

Cheers: To another Safe Stay site. The city of Vancouver has opened its fourth community of pallet shelters, providing temporary residences for those who have been experiencing homelessness. “It’s a thrill for me because every one of these tiny homes are big dreams for people to get their lives back in shape,” Gov. Jay Inslee said while attending a dedication of the site.

The new Safe Stay location is just north of Kiggins Bowl, between Interstate 5 and Main Street. Unlike other uplifting stories that accompany the Christmas season, Safe Stay communities have a year-round impact, providing shelter and hope for needy people in our community.

Cheers: To friendship. Members of a local Girl Scout troop that formed in 1948 still meet regularly, under the moniker Evergreen Pollyannas. As detailed by Columbian reporter Monika Spykerman, the group recently got together at the home of their first troop leader, 101-year-old Rose Funk, to celebrate their 75th anniversary.

The Pollyannas now have 14 members, including daughters and friends, and the girls who led to the formation of the troop are now 89. Funk said: “When I say I’m going to my Girl Scouts meeting, people say, ‘Oh, really? How old are they?’ I say, ‘They’re 80 years old and they don’t sell cookies and they don’t wear shorts.’ ”

Cheers: To the Portland Winterhawks. The junior league hockey team collected more than 13,000 teddy bears this month at its 24th annual Teddy Bear Toss. The franchise designates a December game for the toss each year; when the Winterhawks score their first goal of the game, fans pelt the ice with stuffed bears and other animals they brought for the occasion. This year’s contest drew a sellout crowd of 9,953 fans.

The event creates a remarkable spectacle and has become a beloved holiday tradition. It also is a meaningful one; the bears are donated to charities and hospitals throughout the region.