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Weathering The Economic Storm

Guest commentary

By PAM MORNEAULT

How much of what we need, consume, or just want can we get in our little communities? Does it really make a difference when we shop locally?

We feel that it does make a difference. To have an active community, one that isn't just where people live, but where they shop, see one another, visit and support events, schools, and sports takes everyone's participation. Yes, on non-food items we do have tax, but did you not choose to live in this state? Many could have chosen to live in Oregon. Many live here and shop there. Pretty good deal in the short scheme, but shortsighted in the long haul. Our state and its institutions are supported by taxes. The quality of these institutions, especially schools, is reflected by the amount of taxes collected.

We try not to keep tabs on who our patrons are and are not, but it really comes home to us when we get asked to donate items and money for fundraising. Often it's for an event for our youth, but the request comes directly from the parents. The kids never know where it comes from, nor are they being encouraged to go ask for the help themselves, at which time they would possibly discover what is available to them locally. Our youth do spend money!

Some of us are having to collect donation requests and draw one a month. Some have to turn down even their favorites because their quota is filled for the month or the quarter. Businesses have been experiencing particularly tough times, but those requests are still coming in. One of our businesses recently committed to a donation of one-tenth of the weekly sales total.

Can you find a unique gift for under $10 here? Yes -- and even under $5. Can you have a surprise gift delivered? Sure. How much real help do you get at large stores in choosing a necklace? Are they concerned about you, and do they know your name? In these times, even a bit higher prices don't overshadow that of our time and gas to go elsewhere. Perhaps we save more money at grocery stores elsewhere, but can we imagine the outcry if our own store went out of business? There are many who already do make a purposeful effort to buy locally when possible, and we thank you! You already know what a wonderful array of items and services are right here and in western Klickitat County, and that we have to give business to have business.

Members of the Mt. Adams Chamber of Commerce are sporting posters in their businesses that say "How to Build Community." You'll notice them at banks, stores, and agencies. Every time you see one, something new will catch your eye. Among the items listed is "Buy From Local Merchants."

Please take time to read these community-building ideas. You'll see things you've done and participated in, and you'll see things to try.

We all need to help one another weather this economic storm. Even in tough times there are goods and services that we need. Please: "Support the businesses that support your community!"

Pam Morneault is a member of the Board of Directors of the Mt. Adams Chamber of Commerce and owner of Collage of the Gorge in White Salmon.

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