‘Tis the season for giving, and Hermiston residents have plenty of options to choose from if they want to make the holidays brighter for someone in need.
One of the community’s biggest giving endeavors is the Christmas Express, which expects to deliver about 500 boxes of food and gifts to local families this month.
The annual program, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year, is run by Hermiston Police Department.
Ric Sherman, who helps with Christmas Express each year, said the police department gets recommendations of people in need from schools, service organizations, churches and social service agencies. Recipients range from families with small children to senior citizens living alone.
“It’s easy to overlook our senior citizens, but our senior citizens have been in the community for a long time and have contributed a lot, and they have as much right as anyone else to respectful assistance,” Sherman said.
The police department gets help from various organizations locally, including local farms that donate boxes and transportation, service clubs that raise seed money, city staff who help put together boxes and the Agape House, which helps with distribution.
Community members can help by donating nonperishable food items at Hermiston schools, which collect thousands of pounds of food each year. They can also drop off toys appropriate for children ages 11 and younger (no toy guns) at Hermiston Police Department or Hermiston City Hall, or drop off cash donations at the police department.
In Umatilla and Stanfield, Sherman said people can drop off toys and food to Umatilla Rural Fire Protection District, the Stanfield Moose Lodge or Banner Bank in Stanfield.
The Hermiston Police Department is also teaming up with Walmart’s transportation department for another toy drive, on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. at the Hermiston Walmart. Unwrapped toys donated during that time will be donated to children’s hospitals in the region and the Ronald McDonald House, where families can stay during a child’s treatment.
Other opportunities to give in Hermiston include:
Good Shepherd 12 days of givingWhat is it: Each year, Good Shepherd Health Care System’s 12 Days of Giving plays on a “12 Days of Christmas” theme to collect donations for different causes before Christmas time.
How to help: As of Dec. 4, there are still three days left to donate items to Good Shepherd Health Care System’s 12 Days of Giving. Each day presents a special “12 Days of Christmas” theme for donations. Wednesday, Dec. 4, Good Shepherd is asking for pet food supplies, Thursday for sweaters and coats, and Friday for school supplies.
Items can be dropped off at the main entrance of Good Shepherd Medical Center, the lobby of the Good Shepherd Medical Group Clinic or the lobby of the Medical Plaza.
“It Takes A Village”What is it: People can help brighten the holiday season for area foster children. The Department of Human Services Child Welfare program’s Hermiston office launched “It Takes A Village” to involve the community in providing for foster care kids in Umatilla and Morrow counties.
How to help: There are several ways to participate in the program, including drop-off locations:
•Coat drive: New coats, hats and jackets of all sizes (Harley Swain Subaru)
•Pajama drive: New pajamas in all sizes (Rogers Toyota of Hermiston)
•Toy drive: New toys for ages newborn to 12 (Walmart DC & Lamb Weston)
•Gift cards: With a suggested value of $25, donate gift cards for foster teens ages 13-18 for local stores and restaurants, or online shopping, such as Amazon or Visa. (Rogers Toyota, Harley Swain Subaru, New Hope Community Church, Victory Baptist Church, Columbia Bank, Banner Bank, Umatilla Morrow County Head Start and the Hermiston DHS office)
The donation deadline is Monday, Dec. 9. For questions, call 541-314-7614 or stop by the DHS office, 950 S.E. Columbia Drive, Suite C, Hermiston.
Community Fellowship DinnerWhat is it: A free holiday dinner with all the trimmings. Open to anyone who wants to attend, the Community Fellowship Dinner has provided twice-yearly holiday meals for more than three decades. The Christmas meal is Wednesday, Dec. 25 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Hermiston High School.
How to help: The holiday meal ministry requires upwards of 150 volunteers. Typically working one-hour shifts, people are needed for tasks such as food preparation, packaging to-go meals, setting up the venue, greeting people, serving diners and meal delivery.
In addition, financial contributions are greatly appreciated. They can be sent to Community Fellowship Dinner, P.O. Box 1551, Hermiston, OR 97838. Also, CFD is now registered with the Amazon Smile Foundation. When logged into smile.amazon.com, select “Community Fellowship Dinners in Hermiston” and .5% of eligible purchases will be donated to the cause.
To volunteer or make a donation, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-371-9772. For more information, search Facebook.
Eastern Oregon MissionWhat is it: The Eastern Oregon Mission is a Hermiston-based nonprofit which runs two major programs to provide support for those in need in Umatilla County: Agape House, which assists people with food and other necessities and Martha’s House, a family shelter.
How to help: Those interested in donating money can contribute a one-time or monthly donation to a program of their choice at agapehousehermiston.org. For every $1 donated, the Eastern Oregon Mission can provide $7 worth of service, according to their website. Eastern Oregon Mission also has a partnership with Amazon through AmazonSmile. Select “Eastern Oregon Mission” while shopping on the AmazonSmile website to donate .5% of the purchase price of eligible products to Agape House.
The organization is also always accepting shelf-stable and frozen food donations, cans and bottles for recycling, clothes and furniture as well. To donate, contact 541-567-8774.
Hermiston Warming StationWhat is it: The station, located at 1075 S. Highway 395, provides a warm and secure place to sleep for anyone who needs it during the cold winter months, no questions asked.
How to help: The station is looking for essentials including cases of 16.9 ounce water bottles, cleaning supplies, hand warmers, extra thick wool socks and more. There is a donation list posted on the Hermiston Warming Station Facebook page. The station is also looking for stocking stuffers for an annual Dec. 23 Christmas celebration. Donation hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-6 p.m., Saturdays from 3-5 p.m., and Sundays from 12-2 p.m.
Fuzz Ball Animal Rescue What is it: a small animal rescue in the Hermiston area. Fuzz Ball can assist with adopting out, rehoming and caring for stray pets.
How to help: According to their Facebook page, Fuzz Ball Animal Rescue currently has an anonymous donor willing to match all donations up to $1,000. Monetary donations can be sent through the rescue’s Paypal account on the website (www.fuzzballrescue.com/donate.html) or by calling Oregon Trail Veterinary Clinic at 541-567-1138.
Fuzz Ball Rescue is currently seeking dry kitten food, cat litter, dry dog and puppy food as well as dog toys. The rescue is also looking for foster homes for strays, including kittens and puppies that need bottle-feeding. To donate or volunteer, email email@example.com.