Thinking beyond the present


‘Christmas in June’ community grant program will assist local residents

May 27, 2020 — Unusual times often call for an unusual approach to solutions. That is the thinking behind a new effort created to alleviate some of the financial challenges local residents may be experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program, called “Christmas in June,” is being initiated with funds from retired military pilot Sam Spayd, who has deep ties to the community. He hopes others will also contribute to the project.

“I saw a need in our community to help our friends and neighbors who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Spayd said.

Spayd is an active supporter of many community initiatives, including financial and equipment support for summer school training for local students who are interested in flying. As a pilot, volunteer and supporter, he has also taken the lead in promoting and coordinating the design and construction of the recently approved new gateway to the Florence Municipal Airport and an adjoining park.

Spayd, who regularly donates hanger space for public events, military presentations and meetings, has also been the area coordinator for past Salvation Army holiday collections, often set up at local retail locations during the holiday season.

“Having run two Christmas-time Red Kettle drives, I saw the potential for helping people by doing a similar thing,” he said. “There is an urgency in the financial needs of those who, through no fault of their own, have lost their ability to provide the essentials for their families.”

The pandemic has disrupted the lives of thousands of Florence area residents, which prompted Spayd to work with Oregon Pacific Bank to set up an account for distribution to those who need financial support at this time.

“Thus, ‘Christmas in June’ was born,” he said. “One of my first objectives was to figure a way to get the money to people who need it most, and in a timely fashion. We are starting this campaign Monday, June 1, and I wanted to be able to pay out the money starting on day one.

“The bank approved my loan and, with some early donations from friends, we are starting with a Line of Credit of approximately $15,000. Every day during the month of June, as we collect the funds, we will deposit that money into the account and be able to draw on the available funds each day.”

There are some requirements for receiving funds from this effort. Among those requirements is assuring the funds are dispersed to individuals who live locally and are being financially impacted by the pandemic.

“You must show proof through photo identification that you are a resident of Florence or at least can show that you have, or have had, employment in Florence,” Spayd explained. “If you live in the surrounding communities, you may qualify if your employment was in Florence.”

In addition, self-employed residents will need to show proof of business via business license or business card with a Florence address, and be able to verify that they lost their job on or after Feb. 1 as a result of the financial restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

There is also an opportunity for those wishing to assist Spayd by staffing the donation sites that are going to be available for community contributions.

“For all the people in our community who want to help, here’s the best way to assure that the most people will be helped: You can make a financial contribution to the cause or you can volunteer at one of our collection stations located at our local grocery stores. If you want to become more involved, I need coordinators to help with scheduling volunteers,” Spayd said.

Volunteers will be manning collection points through the month of June, Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Collection sites will be located at the local Fred Meyer, Grocery Outlet, Safeway and Bi-Mart.

“If you do the math, I need 40 hours of bell ringing every day — or 240 hours each week.” Spayd said. “There are lots of opportunities to help your neighbors and your community.”

Spayd said the Christmas in June program is his way of contributing to the betterment of the community, adding that he realizes not everyone will want to become as personally involved in fundraising as he is

“Our goal is to raise $100,000.00 during the month of June,” he said. “We will be distributing checks for $500 to deserving individuals who have had their income drastically reduced, some to zero. By achieving our fundraising goal, we will be able to help 200 people in the City of Florence during the month of June. This will be a tremendous boost to our economy and help get Florence back to the wonderful place we all know and love.”

Interviews to obtain funds will be conducted Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Florence Elks Lodge #1585, located at 1686 12th St. Entrance to the interview room is on the south side of the Elks building.

To schedule an interview to receive funds from this effort, or to volunteer, call Spayd at 541-991-6139.

To contribute directly to the Christmas in June program, send a check to “Christmas in June,” P.O. Box 1041, Florence, Ore., 97439.

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