The effort focuses on providing food baskets and gifts to local families in need

by: JASON CHANEY - Crook County Fire and Rescue staff members Cody Buss, Cody Grimm, and Chris Bocchi (left to right) pose with a Toys for Tots collection box that occupies the CCFR lobby.

During the holiday season, people embrace the opportunity to give to others who are struggling or have needs greater than their own.

In Crook County, residents can once again turn to the Holiday Partnership to help local people in need.

“As a community, we have had a pretty high unemployment rate,” said Brenda Comini, one of the organizers of the Partnership. “It has taken people a while to get back on their feet. So, this effort is the community coming together to help those who are struggling.”

The Holiday Partnership brings together multiple civic and social service organizations as well as businesses and local families to collect and dispense food boxes and gifts throughout the community.

“We have usually around 300 or so volunteers who help contribute to make this all happen,” Comini said.

The food box effort includes local churches with Eastside Church leading the way on putting them together. In addition, the Prineville Eagles help Partnership organizers purchase gift certificates for people with special dietary needs, such as diabetics or those who need gluten-free food. The local Elks Club and Veterans of Foreign Wars organization also put together food boxes and deliver them.

Crook County Fire and Rescue will also join the food collection effort. This Saturday, their staff will conduct a three-hour food drive in the Northridge subdivision.

When it comes to gifts, the Partnership similarly relies on a variety of local groups.

“We have trees throughout the local banks that put out tags on their trees,” Comini said. “People can check out the tags (to purchase the gifts).”

The effort also includes Toys for Tots, a campaign run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve to purchase toys for children whose parents cannot afford them.

Those who prefer not to purchase and donate gifts, the Partnership will accept cash donations.

“We have shoppers who can help fill tags,” Comini said.

In addition, the Partnership has collected bicycles, which have been refurbished through a partnership with Bicycle Re-Source of Bend. The Prineville Police Department has purchases some bikes to give away as well.

The food boxes and gifts go to families throughout the community who must apply to receive them based on income eligibility. People can not only donate food and gifts, but choose to adopt someone in need.

“We have organizations, groups, or even families who adopt whole families and sometimes take care of their gifting and food boxes,” Comini said.

The Partnership will set up shop for the holidays at the Crook County Fairgrounds, with gifts staged in Carey Foster Hall and food boxes stored in the 4-H building.

Later this week, Comini said the volunteer-intensive effort will seek more help and donations as gift-wrapping work begins.

“We can use donations of gift wrap supplies. We will take volunteers to help with gift wrapping.”

Comini acknowledged that community members continually struggle and need food donations and other help beyond the holiday season. Nevertheless, she feels the Holiday Partnership also gives people the chance to participate in the heightened spirit of giving that emerges this unique time of the year.

“This is an amazing time for the community to open their hearts,” she said.

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