More of Hermiston’s underpriveleged students will get a chance to play sports next year after three local businesses donated gear to the nonprofit Made to Thrive.

The organization, which started in Hermiston three years ago, provides the fees, equipment, transportation and other support for students from needy families to be able to participate in extracurricular activities.

U.S. Cellular, Wal-Mart and Obie’s Coffee donated boxes of sports equipment and athletic wear as well as money to Made to Thrive on Friday, just in time for Christmas.

U.S. Cellular representatives said the aim of the donation was to help students in the community, but also to help bring more visibility to the charity and encourage others to contribute their own donations or volunteer power.

“At U.S. Cellular, we aim to give back to our local community and what better way than helping children find productive and fun outlets after school,” Erryn Andersen, director of sales in the northwest region, said in a news release.

Kriss Dammeyer, founder and director of Made to Thrive, said the boxes donated filled two tables.

Some of the items will be used for holiday gifts for participating children, while basics like socks, granola bars and water bottles will be given to volunteers to send with their students when they drop them off at practices and classes. Dammeyer said students participating in Made to Thrive often show up to sports practices in worn-out shoes with no socks underneath.

“We don’t like to send them out to an activity hungry and unprepared,” she said.

Two laptops that were donated will go to high school students served by Made to Thrive who are working hard to better themselves.

Currently Dammeyer has about 35 regular volunteers and serves 300 students. The community support means a lot, she said.

“It was really neat to see multiple businesses come together,” she said. “When people come together great things happen.”

She said the organization’s volunteers are what make Made to Thrive possible, and they could always use more with “a heart for kids.”

For more information visit madetothrive.org or call Dammeyer at 541-571-6169.

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Contact Jade McDowell at 541-564-4536.

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