The Dec. 23, 1919 edition of the Corvallis Gazette-Times included a front page article calling on the community to help make sure 29 Corvallis children got a visit from Santa Claus.
The article said the Red Cross gave the paper a list of children in needy families, and that anything delivered to the paper’s office before 5 p.m. Christmas Eve would be distributed to those anonymous kids and their families.
The petition asked for a mixture of both practical goods and gifts for kids.
The community responded with a “flood of good things into the Gazette-Times office.” The paper said that Corvallis High School students were recruited to distribute the goods to the families.
One couple donated a Christmas dinner and all the fixings. Another man gave knives for all the boys on the list. A “mighty good looking military man” donated 25 pounds of sugar for families that needed it. One community member sent a box of apples to a little girl. The Congregational Sunday School sent candy for all the kids. A fruit vendor donated a box of oranges.
“Every child is entitled to a happy memory of the Christmas time,” said one woman who donated $5 to the effort.
Nearly 100 years later that same spirit has proven to be alive in the Mid-Willamette Valley. Across Linn and Benton counties community groups have raised both food and gifts for hundreds of families in need. And countless community volunteers have also worked to put on events like the Pastega Christmas Light Display in Corvallis, Christmas Storybook Land in Albany and the many community parades and tree lightings that have made the season bright.
Here’s a look back at some of the moments that have already made this season one to remember.
Anthony Rimel covers education and crime in Benton County and weekend events across the Mid-Valley. He can be reached at email@example.com or 541-812-6091.