Employees at the Hermiston Goodwill got into the holiday spirit when store manager Jessica Fernandez organized a giving tree for area foster children.

The Hermiston Goodwill recently brightened the holiday season for local foster children in Umatilla County by throwing them a Christmas party.

In addition to pizza and drinks, Goodwill played Santa Claus by providing each child with a $20 store voucher during the Dec. 18 event. Store employees then acted as personal shoppers, assisting the children in finding toys and clothing.

“The staff’s hearts were warmed when they got to witness one of the children reacting to how many toys he could buy for $20,” said Marvin Hamilton, a certifier with the Department of Human Services Child Welfare program.

Representatives from Goodwill reached out to the DHS, Hamilton said, expressing a desire to throw a party for the children and their families. Marcy Wasney, facilities & special projects manager and Joey Edminster, community and marketing specialist, planned the event.

As if the act of good will hadn’t already secured the thrift store’s position on Santa’s “nice list,” store manager Jessica Fernandez also coordinated a giving tree. Store staff chose tags from the tree and purchased gifts for the foster children. Dozens of brightly wrapped gifts were stacked on a table when Hamilton arrived on Dec. 20 to deliver them to the children.

Others joining the giving spirit by donating numerous gifts, included Pastor Hugo Villalobos of Rekindle Church, Hermiston Walmart Distribution Center, Hermiston Walmart Transportation, Lamb Weston in Boardman, Les Schwab Tire Center in Heppner and Diane Hardy’s 4-H group in Hermiston.

“The community has really shown their support of the foster children in the area,” Hamilton said.

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