Warm pancakes start the holidays

<p>Shan Otto works the grill during the Continental Mills pancake feed and toy drive Saturday morning at Hamley’s Slickfork Saloon. Otto’s husband works for Continental Mills and she volunteered to help with the event.</p>

Buttermilk and blueberry pancakes served as the breakfast menu during the Continental Mills pancake feed and toy drive Saturday.

The company’s employees donate toys and winter clothing for needy children every year, but for the past two years they have made a community event out of their efforts with a pancake feed.

Continental partnered with Hamley’s this year, using their Slickfork Saloon as the site for the free event.

The toy drive has been a tradition for the last five years, said Rosa Hays, Continental Mills human resources supervisor.

 “We are trying to make this a community function to get kids involved and to help kids,” Hays said. “People are not required to bring anything. We ask them to, but the pancakes are free either way.”

Last year’s feed was held at Sunridge Middle School in Pendleton.

Hays said the mills’ annual toy collection efforts and Hamley’s giving tree go hand-in-hand, making them the perfect partners for the event. The gifts collected at this event are used to help children on the giving tree, but experience has taught organizers they always need more.

“Stockings will be left over and given to the employees to help with,” Hays said.

All the help at the event was done by volunteers from Continental Mills, Hamley’s and family members of employees. The Continental Mills plant was running during the event, so family members pitched in with the cooking, serving and cleaning duties, said Bob Bahrns, Continental Mills site manager.

In years past, gifts given to families were already wrapped and ready to go under a Christmas tree, but this year wrapping supplies will be provided to families to wrap the gifts.

“We want to get the families more involved by wrapping their own gifts,” Hays said referring to parents wrapping their children’s gifts.

After the event, employees will continue to donate, and once the collection is complete, the value of the toys and monetary contributions will be totaled. Every year John Heily, Continental Mills president and CEO, matches the donations, Bahrns said.

“Last year he doubled what we collected,” Bahrns said.

Collections will continue through the second week of December.

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