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Fortis Construction and approximately 15 of its trade partners donate more than 700 toys, three-dozen bicycles and $10,000 cash to Holiday Partnership

 - A wide shot photo taken Wednesday, Dec. 4, after team participants were treated to a catered lunch. There were approximately 230 participants.

Carey Foster Hall in Prineville was a flurry of activity and excitement Thursday afternoon, as two truckloads arrived from Fortis Construction filled with toys and bicycles.

The delivery was a culmination of hard work (and fun activities) from Fortis Construction and approximately 15 of its trade partners. The delivery was made to the Holiday Partnership to enable children in the community who need help to have a brighter Christmas.

Fortis is the general contractor at Facebook. Along with all of its trade partners, the company decided to raise money and toys for the Holiday Partnership with a team-building exercise that included office and field staff.

"We challenged them and created teams," said Fortis' office manager and community liaison, Ann Fisher.

"We had 46 teams of five people each," she added. "Three weeks ago, we put them all together, and they created a team poster and a team name. Then the competition started, where they were challenged to go out into the community to their family and friends and raise cash and toy donations."

"They hit it out of the ballpark," she said.

On Wednesday, the teams got together and did a series of eight different competitions where they could win parts to bicycles and wagons. The finished products were to be given to local children through the Holiday Partnership.

"That is where the team-building part came in," Fisher continued.

The teams earned the parts, and then again competed to put the bicycles and wagons together. The end result was a total of 36 bikes of various sizes from 16 to 27.5 inches. They all came with helmets and locks, purchased locally from Good Bike. Fisher pointed out that the owner of Good Bike came and inspected the bikes for safety. The wagons were purchased from the local Bi-Mart.

"Everything that we did, we tried to keep local when we were purchasing all this stuff for the event and leading up to it," said Fisher.

The wagons were filled with approximately $250 worth of toys, including five wagons for girls and five for boys. They also received toy donations from the community — family, friends and co-workers — with more than 20 large red cans purchased from Ace Hardware filled with the toys.

Fisher said that the participants were treated to a catered lunch, and Vicky Ryan and Vicki Rhoden from the Holiday Partnership joined them. They shared with the group about the Holiday Partnership, how it impacts the community and where their donations would go.

It was during this lunch that Ryan and Rhoden would find out the enormity of toys, bikes and money raised.

"Then we announced to Vicky and Vicki and to everyone that was there — over 1,100 people — what was raised," Fisher said with excitement. "At that time, when we did our numbers, it was over 700 toys, which we have had a lot more toys come in since then, and we have raised over $10,000."

She indicated about 230 people participated, and they all work for either Fortis Construction or its trade partners, which included TCM, ODI, H & E, Facebook, Pence Kelly Concrete, SMAF, Taylor Northwest, Rosendin Electric, WPI, Swift & McCormick, EC Electric, Wunderlich-Malec, Flynn, Stoner Electric and Western States Fire.

The participants also received T-shirts and raffle tickets for an opportunity to win prizes.

"We treat our people like family," Fisher said. "We are a big family up here. It's really amazing because the way they come through when they are asked to do anything for the community."

The volunteers at the Holiday Partnership were speechless when the delivery arrived Thursday afternoon. Load after load was brought into the building, amid tears of gratitude.

"This makes all the difference in the world — to know that we can make it through the season and not have to worry about it," said Ryan, as she watched the delivery in disbelief. "Every year, we never know what the donations will be until we get them, and they usually don't start pouring in until next week."

She added that the partnership anticipates each season whether they will have enough donations to complete the year. There has been an increase in need for food and other donations this year. The cash, approximately $10,000, will help to provide food for the food boxes, and Ryan said that they also rely on donations to purchase gifts for the tags that go unfilled on the trees of joy.

"It's very stressful," added Ryan. "It's so relaxing and so nice to know — and less stress — that we are going to make it through this season."

The activity that was initiated by Fortis also impacted the participants from Fortis and their trade partners.

Will Hudson, a superintendent for Fortis Construction, started working for the company in 2009.

"It's awesome, the kind of stuff that we do to give back to the community and to be part of such an organization that comes together as a whole to help donate," he said. "It's a blessing."

Mark Uzeta, also of Fortis Construction, enjoyed the competitions that the teams conducted as they competed for best decorations, most money raised and most gifts. Above all, the gift of giving was felt by the participants.

"It's amazing," said Uzeta. "It feels good to give back."

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