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OPINION: One of a scant handful of Columbia County donors hopes more people will step up.

COURTESY PHOTO: COLUMBIA COUNTY HABITAT FOR HUMANITY  - Volunteers with Columbia County Windermere Realty laid down fresh sod at a 2014 Columbia County Habitat for Humanity housing project on Sykes Road in St. Helens.Every month, my husband and I donate to Columbia County Habitat for Humanity. We thought many other people did, but a Habitat worker reminded me recently of a surprising fact: We are among only four monthly donors in Columbia County.

Habitat has helped many people in our community. It is known for building new homes for deserving people and their families, perhaps the only way some of these people will ever own a home.

Among other projects, Habitat also builds wheelchair ramps for the elderly and helps to rehabilitate homes.

We are told that we have been donors longer than any other family. Our commitment began not long after the Columbia County organization began doing its work in 2001. We don't give hundreds of dollars a month. But over the years, we have donated almost $5,000.

Because of the pandemic, the Habitat ReStore has lost a great deal of business and a number of volunteers like my husband and me. We are 72, prime coronavirus candidates, so we stick close to home and avoid most public contact.

At this point, our monthly donation is all we can give. It's not much, but it's far better than nothing.

Many families now are struggling financially, but not everyone is. We have been financially careful and so we are okay. Other residents of Columbia County might feel the same.

I wish that other fortunate members of our community could become regular Habitat donors. If even 100 more local families donated $20 a month, $24,000 more a year would be available to help people gain warm, safe quarters.

That small sum per family per month would also help make up for the loss of revenue from more normal sources like the ReStore and fundraisers that we can't have now because of the pandemic.

We've been at several Habitat housewarmings and can testify that the mood is joyful and relaxed at these events because yet another deserving family is comfortably housed. And that's reward enough for me.

It would be great if more members of the community joined us. Even donating a little bit each month could improve the homes and lives of our neighbors.

Martha W. Sipe is a Columbia County Habitat for Humanity donor and volunteer. She lives in St. Helens.


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