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Two Portland Charities Focus on Children's Health and Wellness

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The holidays are a perfect time to give to the charity of your choice. Navigating the choices, however, can feel overwhelming when you think about all of the questions to consider. What percentage of the amount donated actually helps the intended children or adults? What services does the charity provide? How in-depth are the goods and services?

Two Portland charities in particular take the guesswork out of choosing where to give money: Christmas for Kids and Oregon Mission of Mercy.

Christmas for Kids Multiplies Money

Christmas for Kids is a Portland organization that focuses on providing for the health and wellness of children living in poverty. Throughout the year, Christmas for Kids builds relationships with local businesses, and these businesses sponsor the event. One great example is that Columbia Sportswear donates a coat and a hat for each child who comes through the program.

Fred Meyer, one of the main sponsors of this event, provides the gift cards and store space and merchandise in Northeast Portland for children to shop with volunteers. Through donations to Christmas for Kids as well as sponsorship and discounts, each dollar donated equals to $2.82 of shopping money for each child.

On the day of the event, children are partnered with volunteers to shop in the Fred Meyer store. Using a list of needs, children and their adult helpers choose discounted shoes, pants, shirts, underwear and socks for the child as well as for siblings in that family (correct sizes are provided). Children then have the opportunity to choose a toy for himself or herself and one for siblings for some Christmas cheer.

While Christmas for Kids has already held the event for 2013, it's never to early to sign up to help next year or to give money for the 2014 event. Check out the Christmas for Kids page for information.

Oregon Mission of Mercy

The Oregon Mission of Mercy is part of the national Mission of Mercy organization. This charity provides basic dental care and services for kids and adults in poverty. Mission of Mercy operates through the donated services of hundreds of dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, dental lab technicians and an array of volunteers to provide these free dental services.

The Portland Mission of Mercy 2013 event occurred the weekend after Thanksgiving, and is essentially a large mobile dental center set up and torn down by volunteers. There is no charge to those who come on a first-come, first-served basis for dental screening and treatment.

"It's an amazing opportunity to join with colleagues to serve people in Portland," said Dr. Richard Barrett, dentist in Beaverton, Oregon. "Helping children and adults with dental care is why I became a dentist."

While the event has occurred for 2013, it's not too early to sign up for next year or to donate funds for this worthy cause. Go to the Oregon Mission of Mercy site for more information.

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