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Editor’s Notebook: A circle of giving — and giving back

Our community steps up during the fall
By David Pero

The Daily Astorian

Published on September 22, 2017 12:01AM

Sue Farmer, the interim executive director of The Harbor, left, and Jerry Sandness, store director at Fred Meyer, right, hold a $5,000 check from Fred Meyer employees to the domestic violence and sexual abuse prevention group.

Submitted Photo

Sue Farmer, the interim executive director of The Harbor, left, and Jerry Sandness, store director at Fred Meyer, right, hold a $5,000 check from Fred Meyer employees to the domestic violence and sexual abuse prevention group.

Columbia Memorial Hospital Foundation volunteers have both contributed and spent countless hours raising millions of dollars toward the hospital’s new state-of-the-art cancer center.

Colin Murphey/The Daily Astorian

Columbia Memorial Hospital Foundation volunteers have both contributed and spent countless hours raising millions of dollars toward the hospital’s new state-of-the-art cancer center.

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David Pero

David Pero


Fall is here — our coast’s traditional time of transition. The weather gets grumpy, children are back in class and tourism fades.

But what doesn’t slow is the region’s renowned spirit of generosity and giving, supporting a wide variety of organizations and causes which enrich our lives.

If anything, autumn brings out the spirit even more as organizations seek support to help those in need, especially in preparation for the coming winter months. The community always responds by volunteering and giving — both at home and at work — creating a continuous circle of giving and giving back.

You don’t have to look hard for examples.

For instance, Columbia Memorial Hospital Foundation volunteers have both contributed and spent countless hours raising millions of dollars toward the hospital’s new state-of-the-art cancer center, which is scheduled to open next month. The Knight Cancer Collaborative, a partnership with Oregon Health & Science University, is located next to the hospital and is the only facility of its type on the North Coast. It will provide an enormous benefit to the entire region.

“This has been one of the greatest community-supported projects that I have witnessed in my career,” CMH Chief Executive Officer Erik Thorsen said in a recent Daily Astorian news story.

Likewise, that circle of giving and giving back resonates with the hospital’s 600 employees, who play a tremendous role in numerous local nonprofits and events. According to Penny Cowden, the CMH Foundation’s executive director, the employees have also set up a “Friendship Fund” to help others at work who may face financial hardships. At the county’s largest employer, Georgia Pacific’s Wauna Mill, donations from employees and the company provide the largest percentage of money that the Clatsop County United Way receives and passes on to nonprofit agencies each year. The mill’s 750 employees also support a variety of local organizations along with educational programs in the Knappa School District and at the Columbia River Maritime Museum.

Fundraising, volunteering and giving back are part of the mill’s daily culture because the giving stays locally, according to Kristi Ward, the mill’s public information officer. “We give to our local community because we want a healthy and thriving community and we want to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors and the children that we see every day,” she said.

In Warrenton, the 325 employees at the Fred Meyer store give to a yearly campaign that can either go to the Fred Meyer Foundation or the United Way. The foundation assists local nonprofits with a focus on the needs of youth and feeding the hungry. This year, the Warrenton Fred Meyer had the largest percentage of associates who gave to the campaign of any store in the company, according to store director Jerry Sandness.

The employees chose to direct a donation to The Harbor, a local nonprofit with a mission of providing advocacy, prevention, support and hope for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. Last year, The Harbor aided more than 1,400 people who were “in dark hours of need,” according to Sue Farmer, the organization’s interim executive director.

Earlier this week, Sandness and the employees presented a $5,000 check to Farmer and The Harbor’s staff to aid the organization’s efforts.

Sandness said the store and its employees are also strong supporters of the Clatsop Community Action Regional Food Bank, among others. Giving back is part of the company’s longtime fabric — it’s been a supporter of Junior Achievement for the past 43 years.

While we don’t often write about fundraising campaigns and check presentations on our Opinions page, those examples are only three of dozens — if not hundreds — that occur each year throughout the region. Providence Seaside Hospital, U.S. Bank, Pacific Power, Hampton Mills, Martin Hospitality, Northwest Natural and a great many more regional businesses and their employees are strong, active supporters of giving.

At The Daily Astorian, we try to highlight that news each week in our Shoutouts on this page and on the pages of our Community section. We also publish our annual Giving Back guide in October that spotlights the wide variety of nonprofit organizations across the region and the good work they do.

All of the region’s organizations make a difference, and there’s a story to tell about each. While we can’t attend every event or presentation, we always want to publish the news and pictures from them. Let us know about them at news@dailyastorian.com and we’ll make sure the community knows about them, too.





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