Eateries sponsor coat drive to benefit area kids

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Give a coat to warm a local kid. Get a bite to warm your belly.

Four area restaurants are teaming up this weekend for a coat drive to benefit area children.

Starting Thursday, new or gently used coats will be accepted at CreekTown Cafe, 1129 S. Second Ave.; T. Maccarone's, 4 N. Colville St.; Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen, 125 W. Alder St.; and Brasserie Four, 4 E. Main St. Those who donate coats through Saturday will be treated to a free dessert or appetizer with their lunch or dinner.

The coats will be distributed to local children in need. This year's three-day event continues efforts started last year by CreekTown Café co-owner Tom Uberuaga, who began donating coats after seeing children running around without coverage in the cold. He decided to invite other restaurants in this year to be part of the effort.

The project is also assisted by Kate Bray of DonateWise, a local operation that helps business donors create a "giving plan" to support nonprofit agencies and causes. Both CreekTown Café and T. Maccarone's are DonateWise members, which is how Bray came to be involved, she explained. To learn more, call 522-4777.

A food drive challenge at Community Bank's 17 branches could collect more than nonperishable items for those in need. It will also win a whole beef to the community with the greatest grossing branch.

The Joseph, Ore.,-based operation, with branches in Walla Walla and Milton-Freewater, has set a collection goal of 30 32-gallon bins through the months of November and December.

If the goal is met, the company will donate an entire beef -- valued at $2,000 -- to the area where the most food was collected. The bank will also donate $25 for each bin that is filled to that area's food bank.

Each branch has a bin and a Food Drive Tracking Chart. Donations are given to the food banks as the bins are filled to help meet demand through the cold, holiday months. The food drive will run through Dec. 31. The winning area will be announced Jan. 1. So far the Pendleton and LaGrande branches are leading the charge.

To donate locally, visit the Walla Walla branches at Alder Street and First Avenue and 420 Wellington Ave., and in Milton-Freewater at 13 N.E. Fifth Ave.

Charlotte Bouta, member services coordinator for Dayton electric cooperative Columbia Rural Electric Association, was named the 2998 Communicator of the Year by Ruralite Services.

In her role for Columbia REA, Bouta creates the co-op's member and employee communication materials. She also provides editorial content for the co-op Web site and publications, including Columbia REA's edition of Ruralite magazine.

Forest Grove, Ore.,-based Ruralite Services is a more than 50-year-old nonprofit cooperative corporation that serves the communications needs of 61 consumer-owned electric utilities in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

In a prepared statement on the award, Ruralite Assistant Editor Mike Teegarden said Bouta brings a modern look to the magazine's pages while maintaining content useful to Columbia REA members. "She won this award because of the hard work she has put in and because of the result," he said.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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