PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Hundreds of families in our area still need help making sure there are gifts from Santa under their Christmas tree this year.
Compassion in Action in Clackamas County, whose donation space is in the Oregon City Berry Hill Shopping Center, serves nearly 400 families. This year, they barely have any gifts to give away.
Darlene Fritsche has been volunteering with the organization for 26 years and every year works to get the space, volunteers and donations ready for the holiday season. She says it does her heart good to help people in her community.
“Years ago a gentleman had lost his job just a few days before this time came up and we were able to supply him with a bicycle for his son and he just started crying,” Fritsche said. “He was so thrilled to get a bicycle and helmet.”
Fritsche says their biggest need this year is gifts for teenagers between 15 and 18. She suggested donations of dressy scarves, perfume, jewelry, bath and body care kits, pajamas and slippers.
Volunteer Kylan Lewis says teenage boys are the hardest to shop for but personal care kits like those from Axe or Old Spice or tool kits are always great to have.
Call 503.975.3961 for more information about donating
Lewis said he recently made a special delivery to a bedridden man, who cried when he saw the gifts he would be able to give his 17-year-old son.
“A lot of times when you give people a bike, they’ll start crying or something and that’s probably the most memorable thing,” Lewis said.
The families that benefit from gift drives like this one are often out of work and or unable to work, and struggle to come up with Christmas gifts.
Melissa and her sister Elizabeth went to the center to find gifts for Melissa’s kids, ages 15, 10, 7 and 2.
“I feel excited that they’re gonna have something under the tree this year,” Melissa said.
“We just didn’t know what we were gonna do,” Elizabeth said.
Compassion in Action also provides holiday meals for the families they serve. Fritsche said they usual put together holiday dinners with a turkey, ham or chicken and sides. Donations of grocery store gift cards are also helpful to help make Christmas dinner.
They expect to get more donations in soon because local groups that collect toys will be making their distributions.
“We have a society that has a tenancy to have their hand out but there’s also the other side that are so appreciative of what they get,” Fritsche said. “And then they come back and volunteer and that’s even better.”