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This Christmas, 955 locals received gifts through the Holiday Partnership, and 601 families received food baskets

HOLLY SCHOLZ/CENTRAL OREGONIAN
 - Holiday Partnership Co-Coordinator Vicky Ryan prepares one of the hundreds of gift bags distributed during the Holiday Partnership.

Thanks to the community's generosity, a multitude of locals were able to have a merry Christmas this holiday season.

"We live in an awesome community. People gave of their time as well as monetary gifts to help make sure others had a better Christmas," said Crook County Holiday Partnership Co-Coordinator Vickie Rhoden. "It was a really good year, and I think things went really well."

Officially formed in 2005, the Holiday Partnership provides holiday support to seniors age 60 and older, children age 17 and younger, disabled adults, veterans and families in need in Crook County. Agencies and organizations partner together each year to eliminate duplication and adequately serve those less fortunate.

This Christmas, 955 locals received gifts through the Holiday Partnership, and 601 families received food baskets.

Using their database, the local Department of Human Services office sends out applications to income-eligible individuals. Recipients who would like to receive gifts must then turn in their applications and fill out wish lists. DHS then notifies the Holiday Partnership.

Those who don't receive benefits through DHS may apply at the Crook County Health Department office, where Rhoden works as the administrative assistant. Income-qualified families are added to the Holiday Partnership list.

Each November, the wish lists are added to Gifting Trees, which are located at several businesses and organizations around own. Individuals and organizations then pick lists off of the trees and purchase gifts valued at $50.

HOLLY SCHOLZ/CENTRAL OREGONIAN
 - Volunteer Richard Rath wraps gifts that would later go to children in need.Additionally, drop boxes are dispersed around town to collect nonperishable food, clothing, toys and gifts, and Rhoden said a lot of people also donated food through the food challenges.

"The American Legion was awesome help as well as the police department," Rhoden said.

The American Legion and Auxiliary purchased gifts for 140 individuals and bought 96 $50 food certificates from Ericksons Thriftway. The Prineville Police Department collected almost 500 toys.

"We had toys coming out our ears! We are so thankful for all of that," Rhoden said.

Seventy children had bikes on their wish lists, and Rhoden said Toys for Tots, Bicycle Re-Source of Bend and other individuals donated bikes to fulfill those wishes.

In addition to all the toys that were given, a lot of quilts and crocheted blankets were donated.

"We appreciate those so much. Some came from the churches and some came from individuals," Rhoden said. "We have a lot of requests for those and like to give those to the seniors as something extra to go with their gift."

Rhoden said around 200 people volunteered with Holiday Partnership this season.

"We had several people that came and volunteered every day to wrap gifts and organize things," she said. "People seemed like they went out of their way and donated and helped. We had so many wrappers some days we had to send them home!"

Holiday Partnership organizers say thanks to those who fulfilled wish lists, donated food and gave of their time.

"There is no way we can give 600 food baskets and give gifts to almost 1,000 people without the loving and giving spirit of our wonderful community," Rhoden said.

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