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"Warm Hearts' aids local homeless

by CAROLINE LOBSINGER
Staff Writer | December 3, 2023 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — No one should spend the winter cold, or wondering how they are going to make it through the dark and dreary days.

Seeking to push back the cold by spreading warmth and compassion is the annual Warm Hearts Winter Drive. Each year, the community and Umpqua Bank employees team up to help people struggling with access to housing and other basic resources.

As part of the drive, more than 5,000 associates and nearly 300 local branches — including the bank's Sandpoint and Ponderay branches — will help mobilize communities to raise money and collect winter clothing for shelters and aid organizations serving those facing homelessness.

The drive continues the community-impact commitment of the former Columbia Bank, which merged with Umpqua earlier this year, said Alexandria Plew, senior corporate communications manager for Umpqua Bank.

The campaign, now in its ninth year, started as a way for bank staff to partner with their community to raise funds and other resources for local shelters and nonprofits helping those in need. 

"As a newly combined bank, Umpqua is committed to mobilizing our greater resources and the collective power and passion of our associates to make a difference in our local communities," David Moore Devine, Umpqua Bank chief marketing officer, said. "Access to adequate shelter and clothing continues to be a major challenge for many of our neighbors, and our Warm Hearts campaign empowers associates, along with members of our communities, to support local families in need. Simply donating a few dollars, a new coat, or other quality clothing items can help ensure that more of our neighbors are cared for in the months ahead."

The campaign, which kicked off on Nov. 27, runs through Dec. 31. Area residents can make donations or contributions at their local Umpqua Bank branches or go online to WarmHeartsWinterDrive.com.

All donations will go directly to local organizations and nonprofits in your community. Among organizations receiving funding in Bonner County are Priest River Ministries Advocates for Women, Bonner Homeless Transitions, and the Community Action Partnership Association of Idaho.

All designated contributions stay in the community where they were raised and directly support local organizations, Umpqua Bank officials said.

"Associates at Umpqua Bank's nearly 300 branches are actively engaged in securing financial contributions and warm clothing from customers and community members," Devine said. "One hundred percent of the clothing and funds collected will be donated directly to local shelters and aid organizations."

The first drive was a smash hit, rallying local communities and netting donations of both cash and clothing. In its first 30 days, it raised $130,000 and collected large numbers of warm winter wear, from gloves to coats to hats, for those in need.

Since the first Warm Hearts drive in 2015, more than $2 million has been raised. This year, Umpqua decided to kick it up a notch, expanding the program to support more than 100 organizations in communities in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, and Utah.

"The Warm Hearts Winer Drive started in 2015 as a community-impact commitment of the former Columbia Bank, which merged with Umpqua earlier this year," Plew said. "Throughout the years, more than $2 million in contributions has been raised to provide resources for local shelters and nonprofits that support families and individuals without a home."

Every dollar donated adds up — $5 provides a pair of warm socks; $10 provides a warm blanket; and $15 provides a warm fleece blanket and warm socks.

Last year, the local drive raised almost $16,000, with sponsor Samuels Store donating $10,000. Overall, the drive raised almost $278,000 in partnership with local communities.

Bank officials said they are grateful for that partnership and how residents support the local drive with their generosity and caring spirit.

The Warm Hearts Winter Drive accepts both cash donations and new winter clothes. Contributions can be made in person at Umpqua Bank branches and online at WarmHeartsWinterDrive.com.


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