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Michael J. Sykes of the Columbia River PUD is asking for donations to benefit people in need.

PMG PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Michael J. SykesAt Columbia River PUD, we like to plan ahead. Usually this is to ensure we continue delivering reliable electricity to you, our customers.

Now, in addition to maintaining the great service you have come to expect, we are also getting a head-start on the holidays.

We have assembled our 10-foot-tall Christmas tree with a lone ornament on top. Next we will blanket it in warm donations.

For the fourth year, we are collecting items for our Warming Tree to distribute among members of the community. We're asking employees, board members and customers to bring in new or gently used hats, coats, blankets, gloves, and other warming items.

These items will be donated to Community Action Team to distribute to community members.

This is a tradition that was started in 2018, when we donated items to the St. Helens Kiwanis Club.

"I thought it was a wonderful idea to give back to the community. It was festive, simple, and a feel-good gesture," said customer accounts and billing manager Kristen Dean, who organizes the event.

Since then, we've partnered with a different nonprofit organization each year: SAFE of Columbia County in 2019, and the St. Helens Elks Lodge Holiday for Hope program last year.

After collecting 373 items in 2018, we have exceeded 800 items each of the last two years. We hope to set a new record this winter.

With three donation drives bringing in more than 2,000 individual items, it's clear that the Warming Tree has been a sustained success. Dean says the sheer volume of donations over the years has been overwhelming and amazing. She hopes the event will continue to grow and help even more Columbia County families this year.

"It's important that we are involved in our community and give back to those in need. This is just one example of the ways we help," Dean said.

If you wish to donate items to the Warming Tree, please bring them to our office during regular business hours, Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. We ask that all donations are turned in by Dec. 9 to ensure they are delivered in time for Christmas.

Michael J. Sykes is general manager of the Columbia River People's Utility District.


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