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Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

Local organizations help the needy


A Tree of Sharing sits in the lobby of North Cascades Bank. The Tree has tags on it with the names of children and the presents they'd like to receive. Community members take it upon themselves to take a tag and purchase a present for the kids. - Jacob Wagner photos

The spirit of giving can be found in different areas of our community. Just a few examples include giving presents to children in poverty, food to the hungry, coats and winter clothes to children in need, and backpacks and winter clothes to the homeless.

The Trees of Sharing program, which helps low-income children receive Christmas presents, has been spreading joy in the community for over 30 years.

Started in 1983 by five ladies from St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church, the program has grown over the years to provide presents to roughly 150 children each year.

Trees and decorations that were donated from the community have been placed at North Cascades Bank, the Coulee Dam Federal Credit Union, and near the pharmacy at Safeway.

Tags are placed on the trees with the names of children and the presents they'd like. Community members then take it upon themselves to buy those presents for the children, which are then wrapped and delivered to the little tykes.

"It's a wonderful thing," said Linda Black, who has been involved with the program for 14 years. "We have had adults come to us who were children in this community say 'we wouldn't have had Christmas if it wasn't for Trees of Sharing.'"

"The idea here is that we are trying to meet the need where a child would not receive a Christmas gift at all, so I hope and pray that that is what we're doing," Black said. "We recognize that we have a lot of families that rely on the food bank and other sources because they just don't have sufficient income, and Christmas can put a lot of pressure on families."

Black said that, as of Nov. 17, they have 31 families and 94 children signed up, and they expect more.

For more information on Trees of Sharing, Black can be reached at 633-3611.

Carol Nordine, of the Care and Share Food Bank, said that they serve about 60 people a week, but that the number of those in need of food is surely higher. Nordine said that some people also go to the senior center for food donations, and that many people aren't willing to take handouts, despite being in need.

North Cascades Bank recently wrapped up their annual coat drive, in which they raise money for and accept winter coats, gloves, and hats to donate to the school, grades K-12, something the bank has been doing for six years. This year, the coat drive donated about 50 coats, in addition to hats and gloves.

"It always goes really well. It's definitely something the school says is needed," said Jerry Smith, manager for North Cascades Bank, who has been involved with the program for the past two years.

Coulee Medical Center helps homeless people in the area, giving out coats and backpacks to those in need for the past two years, and letting them warm up in the lobby during the cold days of winter.

The backpacks range in size from small to extra large for men, women, and children, and include things like shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and food such as energy bars.

"One young man walked away with his head higher because he had a coat, hat, and pack on that he didn't have on before," said Molly Morris, financial counselor and community health worker at CMC.

Morris said that Grant County Integrated Health and Grant County Housing Authority are discussing the possibility of building a warming shelter locally to accommodate the 10 or more homeless people in the area. Morris said that many of them are "couch surfers" or will stay in empty homes. "We've always had this problem here," Morris said.

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