Members bring joy to children through Presents from Partners event

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Members from Local 111 (PFSP), AFT-Oregon Retirees and AFT Local 5017 (OFNHP) helped to make Presents from Partners’ Holiday Toy Drive a smashing success. Over 240 kids participated this year. Many are homeless, or their families are struggling to keep a roof over their heads, with little opportunities.

“I feel so fortunate that we are able to take part in this event each year. It truly represents the spirit of the season when you see the joy on the faces of these children, who have so little, as they meet Santa, stuff stockings and choose gifts for themselves and their parents,” shared Belinda Reagan, Local 111 (PSFP).

The event featured a visit with Santa, toys and stockings for the kids and lunch for their families. Labor’s Community Services Agency (LCSA), which provides emergency services for union families sponsors the event with the Northwest Oregon Council. Vickey Burns and Eryn Byram from LCSA had nothing but praise for the hard work shown by AFT members.

 “We could not have this event each year without the help of Local 111 (PFSP). Each year, their volunteers handle every aspect of the party from collecting and taking inventory of toys, to handling set up, staffing and breakdown on the day of the event,” said Byram.

“We are also especially grateful this year to have assistance from AFT-Oregon Retirees,” said Burns. “They brought a warm feeling with the homemade stockings they provided. The kids loved it!”

In addition to an army of volunteers, Local 111 (PFSP) worked with a local Kohl’s to purchase $1,276 in toys for only $544.65. Local 5017 (OFNHP) members also donated toys and volunteered at the party.

AFT-Oregon Retirees members Leanna Hakala, President Val Jack, past AFT-Oregon President Debbi Covert, Louise Currin and Paula Kingsbury (OSEA-ROSE retiree) handmade 300 stockings for the event. Retirees also volunteered at the “stocking table” to meet with the kids and distribute the stockings in person.

In the past, LCSA has promoted the event to families they know are in need. This year, they reached out to Snocap Charity and Right to Dream Too, the homeless camp in downtown Portland that has drawn recent media attention.

Unions around Portland donated to the event. Sheet Metal Union donated use of their hall. IBEW Credit Union sponsored a “Presents for Parents” area where kids “shopped” for a gift for their parents. The event also included a lunch for the whole family sponsored by Madison’s Grill of SE Portland. Union cab donated free cab rides for participants. And those who are unable to attend, will have a later opportunity to pick out a toy.

PHOTO CREDITS: Cover, Michael Gutwig, NW Labor Press (nwlaborpress.org). This page, Eyran Byram, LCSA.