By ERYN BYRAM, Executive director, Labor’s Community Service Agency
On a chilly Saturday, Dec. 18, over 50 unions joined together with Labor’s Community Service Agency to deliver food, gifts and toys to the doorsteps of over 500 children. From Longview to Grand Ronde, LCSA served hundreds of union families who have been impacted by the intense disruptions that continued throughout 2021. Our sectors have been affected in varying degrees, but the harm that these past two years has had on working families can not be overstated. In the words of one family served by Presents from Partners: “Thank you from my heart. These are the only gifts my family will receive this year to share. I am new to my union and overwhelmed with the love and joy given to us today.”
On behalf of LCSA, I hope to extend our most heartfelt and warmest appreciation to the dozens of unions, hundreds of volunteers, and all who have embraced the importance of the Presents from Partners solidarity program. From the AFT retirees who handcrafted 500 stockings, to the Northwest Oregon Labor Council volunteers who stuffed each with cocoa, peppermints and treats, to our IBEW Federal Credit Union volunteers who wrapped hundreds of presents for the children to give to their caregivers, to the Portland Local 8 ILWU Credit Union and its members, who fundraised year-round to purchase a mountain of toys.
A hearty thanks to all 10 union training centers that held a friendly competitive toy drive—raising over 145 bags of toys—with NECA/IBEW and the Ironworkers tying for first place! And, as they have done the past six years, the Portland Federation of School Professionals Local 111 inventoried each and every toy to ensure that there was enough for each child. We had members of Machinists, AFSCME, Hillsboro Classified, IATSE, and Painters Local 10 show up to carefully select and wrap up gifts for the children. Our BCTGM-represented Spin Catering prepared and beautifully packaged over 1,200 servings of a ready-to-eat holiday meal for each family served. And, of course, the 80 union volunteers who showed up that cold morning, popped their trunk, loaded up toys, and headed out to deliver … including the Southwest Washington Central Labor Council, which delivered to all of our Washington state families.
A special shoutout to our union ally organizations, many of whom have been a part of this holiday solidarity program for over a decade: Benesys, Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield, Kaiser Permanente, William C. Earhart Company, McKanna Bishop Joffe LLP, Lindquist CPA, Labor First, Northwest Labor Press, Hollywood Impress, American Income Life, and the labor-management committees of the electricians and laborers. Our most grateful acknowledgment to the hosts of this entire undertaking, Oregon Laborers Training and Apprenticeship and LIUNA Local 737, whose generosity and dedication to ensuring families do not go without, is second to none.
And none of this would have been possible without the generosity of the United Way of the Columbia Willamette, which has stood beside labor since 1974, allowing LCSA to thrive and continue serving union families with safety-net and supportive services. Their support has been our bedrock, and their service to our community is unmatched.
But, most especially, our deepest gratitude to each union that dug deep to connect with those struggling through this tough season. Thank you for trusting LCSA to serve your membership. We are proud to do so.