By editorial board • 

Child abuse and other crises know no season

Children need toys on Christmas morning, but even more, they need protection throughout the year.

Abused children in Yamhill County often go to Juliette’s House, where the nonprofit organization’s staff interviews them and starts gathering the evidence needed to make sure no one ever hurts them again. The agency deals with approximately 250 cases of child abuse or neglect every year.

Meanwhile, Lutheran Community Services Northwest, another local nonprofit, offers education and other resources to adults and children to prevent abuse.
This Christmas, as our communities’ thoughts turn toward brightening the hearts of children, there is something we can all do so children can cry out in happiness rather than horror.

Both Juliette’s House and Lutheran Community Services currently have major fundraising efforts underway to confront child abuse.

Officials at Juliette’s House have raised $15,000 toward a $52,000 project to fund rebuilding of their interview and observation room.

Local donors don’t have to foot the entire bill. If community donations don’t bring in enough money, grants might be able to make up the difference, according to Executive Director Russell Mark.

Juliette’s House is often the first destination on a trail of evidence that leads to abusers being caught and children being safe.

Interviewing and observing children is crucial in the initial process. The upgrade will put children more at ease and give staff members up-to-date technology for documenting what the interviews reveal.

Lutheran Community Services needs another $200,000 to expand its services in Willamina and Sheridan. A variety of factors, including poverty and isolation, intersect, making children in those towns particularly vulnerable.

Although Willamina and Sheridan account for only 8 percent of Yamhill County’s population, they represent 25 percent of its child abuse cases. Opening a permanent location on the grounds of the Willamina School District would enable the organization to provide therapeutic classes for young children and parenting classes as well as home visits.

There are many ways to donate to worthy causes this Christmas, of course. These are just two examples.

However, they are particularly good examples, representing crucial missions to help arguably the most vulnerable human beings in our communities.
Christmas is the season of giving, not only because of the communal feeling of warmth and kindness it brings, but also because it is time to make financial contributions for tax purposes.

Wherever people spend their charitable dollars this season, it is important to remember that child abuse knows no season. Neither does hunger. Neither does homelessness. Neither do any of the other needs that surround us.

Contributions tend to decrease after the glow of the holidays dims.

The food bank at Yamhill Community Action Partnership distributes approximately 2 million pounds of food annually. Organizers do an extraordinary job of stocking up for the lean months, but tthey still exist, as fewer people donate food when they aren’t moved by the Christmas spirit.

Whether motivated by taxes or tinsel or a combination of the two, remember there will still be people who need the help of their local friends and neighbors throughout the year. Keep them in your thoughts and hearts always — not just at Christmas.

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