Safeway donates to kindergarten program; OCHS senior wins scholarship; Gladstone Backpack Buddies honored

The Safeway Foundation contributed $1,375 to the Gladstone Center for Children and Families to support the Little Leopards Camp, a summer program that prepares at-risk children to start kindergarten.

"Most of the children served by the program did not have the opportunity to attend preschool, so this gives them the opportunity to prepare for school both academically and socially," said Early Learning Director Jere Applebee. "The program also provides classes for parents to show them how to support their child's learning at home."

PHOTO COURTESY: LESLIE ROBINETTE - Kona Ice made a $500 donation to John Wetten Elementary. Principal Wendy Wilson, fourth-grader Alex Thrush and head secretary Linda Alberico celebrate the contribution, which will support classroom technology.

OCHS senior wins scholarship

PHOTO COURTESY: KAISER PERMANENTE - In the fall, Harjit Minhas will attend the University of Southern California.Harjit Minhas, a senior at Oregon City High School, is the recipient of a $10,000 scholarship from Kaiser Permanente Northwest.

Growing up in the United States as the child of Sikh immigrants, he witnessed his parents being discriminated against frequently. These experiences, along with seeing a patient die after unsuccessful heart surgery in northern India, spurred him to become interested in cardiothoracic surgery — a field that has very few surgeons with a Punjabi background.

"The shortage of minorities in surgical professions is true today, but as a Punjabi and a first-generation college student, I hope to become the first of many cardiothoracic surgeons originating from an underrepresented background," Minhas said.

Since the program began nine years ago, Kaiser has awarded more than $3.1 million in scholarships, impacting hundreds of students across the Northwest. In 2018 alone, the company awarded more than $500,000 in scholarships.

Gladstone Backpack Buddies honored

PHOTO COURTESY: LESLIE ROBINETTE - Steve Gifford of Gladstone First Baptist, teacher Linda Fletcher and special-education assistant Teresa Watts were recognized for their contributions to Gladstone's Backpack Buddies program.The Gladstone School Board presented a Growing Great People award to Gladstone's Backpack Buddies program. Each week, the program provides a bag of nutritious food to low-income families with children in Gladstone schools and Head Start. Since the beginning of the school year, the number of families served in Gladstone's four schools has increased from 60 to 94.

"We know good nutrition is important to stabilize families so kids can learn," said teacher Linda Fletcher.

Gladstone High School special-education students from Fletcher's vocational skills class sort, inventory and pack the food each week, learning practical job skills and the importance of community service.

Food donors include Gospel Fellowship Community Church, Gladstone First Baptist, the Table Church, the Source Church, St. Stephen Lutheran Church and Gladstone Christian Church.

The program also gets regular donations from Dave's Killer Bread and Bob's Red Mill. Gladstone/Oak Lodge Rotary donated $3,200 to the program this year.

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