A Coronavirus Kind of Christmas

By Mike Gutwig

Labor’s Community Service Agency’s (LCSA) annual Presents From Partners “Labor of Love” holiday program took on a whole new look this year due to the coronavirus. For the past two decades, children and their families facing tough times have gathered at Sheet Metal Workers Local 16’s headquarters in Northeast Portland for a holiday treat. They enjoyed a union-catered lunch and visited with Santa Claus before being led into rooms filled with toys, bikes, stuffed animals, clothes and presents for their parents. They could choose what they wanted.

This year, because of COVID-19 crowd restrictions ordered by the governor, the party had to be canceled. But as LCSA Executive Director Eryn Byram said: “Hey COVID, you ain’t got nothing on organized labor. We are ready to roll!”

The Presents from Partner planning committee came up with … well, a plan. Instead of the party, 90 union volunteers on Dec. 19 lined up their sleighs (cars and trucks) in the parking lot of Laborers Local 737’s union headquarters in Northeast Portland. They loaded up their sleighs with toys, parental gifts, union-catered food boxes, gift cards, and hand-sewn Christmas stockings and personally delivered them to the homes of more than 500 children in Oregon and Southwest Washington who had pre-registered to receive them.

All told, 50 unions participated and $20,000 in food and gift cards were delivered, along with all the other items.

This is what solidarity looks like!

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