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Health organization makes stops in Woodburn, North Marion, Gervais and Mount Angel

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Nellie Muir Elementary student Anthony Martinez holds up one of 117 backpacks donated to area schools by Salem Health on Thursday.Elementary school students in the northern Marion County area got a surprise gift last week after members of Salem Health Medical Group toured the region dropping off backpacks and other school supplies to kick off the 2019-20 school year.

The gifts were a continuation of an annual tradition from the Salem-based health provider to local schools, but new to students in Woodburn, North Marion, Gervais, Mount Angel and others.

"We've donated for years here in the Salem area, but this year we wanted to focus on some of the rural communities where we work," said Lee Espey, site administrator for Salem Health's new Woodburn location being built on the west side of I-5 near the Woodburn Outlet Mall. "We wanted to start giving back to the community the same way we had been in Salem."

Espey and several colleagues from Salem Health toured the communities on Thursday, starting with Nellie Muir Elementary School, and moving around Woodburn, North Marion and 91 Elementary School in the Canby School District.

The previous day, they dropped off supplies in Gervais, Mount Angel and Silverton. In total, the group donated 117 backpacks and a great variety of school supplies such as notebooks, colored pencils, markers, and more.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Representatives of Salem Health, along with members of Nellie Muir Elementary School display the school supplies delivered on Thursday. Front Row: students Jaquelyn Lopez, Tobin Saucedo, Anthony Martinez and Claudia Silva.The tradition started three or four years ago. One of Salem Health's directors had a sibling who taught elementary school, and relayed the lack of necessary supplies that many kids didn't have on the first day of school.

Staff members wanted to help in some way and began collecting supplies to give away. Over the years, the tradition grew to incorporate other schools in other branches, such as Independence and Dallas. This year, the donations grew to include schools in northern Marion County.

"All the donations are from our staff members and our providers — doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners and support staff as well," Espey said.


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