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More gifts donated to giving trees every year

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Kathy Peper has organized local giving tree program for foster kids for six years

BARBARA SHERMAN - In the Summerfield Clubhouse wearing big smiles because of all the gifts donated by the residents are (from left) Andrea O'Connor, who started the SCOTTY Foundation to collect gifts for Washington County foster children; Tom Webber, community outreach director for Regency Park Senior Living, which also had a giving tree; Kathy Peper, giving tree organizer; and Summerfield resident Delores Demarinis.This year the Summerfield Civic Association, HomeStreet Bank, the King City Civic Association, Smiles Dental and Regency Park Senior Living all sponsored Christmas trees with gift tags for Washington County foster children.

All the children in each Washington County foster family, whether they are foster, biological or adopted, fill out three gift tags. The SCOTTY Foundation, which coordinates the program to get presents to the kids, was started by Andrea O'Connor after her son Scotty was killed in a skateboarding accident in July 2011 when not wearing a helmet. SCOTTY stands for Sponsoring Children of Today, Yesterday and Tomorrow.

"I asked for 300 tags for the trees to start," said Kathy Peper a Summerfield resident who has organized the local giving trees for the past six years. "The third day of the trees being up, I called and asked for an additional 75 tags, and three days later, I requested an additional 75 tags. We maybe had about 50 tags left on the five trees at the end.

"Within 24 hours, I started getting gifts under the trees. The day after I put the tags up, I had gifts at both the Summerfield and King City trees."

The Summerfield tree started with 125 tags, "and I had to call for additional tags in three days," Peper said. "There was never a day without a gift under the tree, and even though the cut-off was Dec. 15, I continued getting gifts until Dec. 23. Summerfield's gifts were wonderful, ranging from two pairs of tap shoes, coats, shoes and lots of toys."

Supplemental Health Care Complete staff also selected tags from the Summerfield tree and bought gifts.

"BARBARA SHERMAN - Gathering around the King City Clubhouse Christmas tree with the bounty of gifts donated by residents are organizer Kathy Peper (kneeling) and (back row from left) KCCA Administrator Kristina Rodriguez, Ginny Jones and Diane Solomon. "It was so exciting to put these out," Jones said. "It just warms your heart."I started with 75 tags for the King City tree and had to call for more tags in three days," Peper said. "This is the third year for the King City giving tree, and it has grown. We collected about 33 more gifts this year than last year.

"The King City Lions Club has participated every year, and they gave generously this year too. Like Summerfield, the gifts that King City gave were wonderful - everything from a man's watch, basketball and clothes to toys."

BARBARA SHERMAN - HomeStreet Bank again had a giving tree to benefit Washington County foster children, and in previous years, the bank's customers' contributions were recognized at an annual December Tigard Chamber of Commerce AM event, but it was cancelled due to one of the area's snowstorms. Gathering together before picking up the gifts are (from left) Jacob Pilling, vice president/bank branch manager; Andrea O'Connor of the SCOTTY Foundation; O'Connor's daughter Amber; Emmy, a bank customer's daughter; and giving tree organizer Kathy Peper.HomeStreet Bank had another wonderful year too as its customers picked up tags and returned them with gifts, according to Vice President/Branch Manager Jacob Pilling.

"The HomeStreet Bank gifts ranged from bedding and toys to gift cards," Peper said. "All the locations together gave over $1,500 in gift certificates. Several of the cards did not have a value on them, but we counted up to $1,490 plus the unknown amounts. The gift cards ranged from Visa to Cold Stone Ice Cream, and there were several requests for Coastal Farm and Ranch gift cards. One request was for a western shirt with pearl buttons - found it at Coastal."

Jason Grenfell, a Washington County foster dad, drove his trailer around to the Summerfield Clubhouse and HomeStreet Bank to pick up all the presents and load them up to deliver them to the SCOTTY Foundation warehouse for sorting for the first time.

O'Connor and Peper appreciated his generosity, and O'Connor said, "I think he's been holding out on me (for not offering his trailer sooner)! We are going to be up all night sorting and organizing."

Hundreds of kids had a merrier Christmas, thanks to the generosity of local residents and businesses.