Don Comstock of Men’s Auxiliary Plays Santa for CPAH

Photo credit: Angela Bohlke. Santa (Don Comstock) listens to the Christmas wishes during a stop at Community Partners for Affordable Housing annual holiday party.

Photo credit: Angela Bohlke. Santa (Don Comstock) listens to the Christmas wishes during a stop at Community Partners for Affordable Housing annual holiday party.

Written by Geoff Pursinger, Pamplin Media Group

More than 100 people flocked to Colossae Church in Tigard on Tuesday night. They came from across Tigard, Beaverton and Southwest Portland.

But they weren’t there for a church service. They were there to party.

Community Partners for Affordable Housing, a Tigard-area nonprofit that builds low-rent apartment complexes, celebrated the holiday season with a special party, bringing together residents from its seven area apartment complexes.

Families enjoyed free dinner from a Portland-area food cart, got to decorate cookies, made ornaments and met with jolly old St. Nick himself — along with his old pal, Rudolph.

“It helps foster those positive relationships,” said Shannon Wilson, CPAH’s director of operations. “The holiday party is the time of year when we are able to get everyone together.”

Since 1993, the nonprofit organization has been building affordable housing and offering skill-building activities to help low-income families.

“It brings everyone together,” Wilson said. “The holidays can be a stressful time. Often, finances are tight or families are on a limited budget and struggling to make ends meet. So, to be able to provide a free event where they can have dinner, decorate cookies, see Santa and get a gift, it really is important to everyone to celebrate the season.”

Every child went home with a special gift, donated from a member of the community, said Tracy Stepp, a spokeswoman for CPAH.

“People love to give at the holidays, and this is a good way for kids to get a gift,” Stepp said. “Sometimes these kids have no gifts at all during the holidays, or very few.”

Presents were donated from Tigard Methodist Church, Tigard Kiwanis Club, Farber Swim School in Beaverton and individual donors. “There are a lot of generous groups and individuals that we work with,” Wilson said. “Every child under 18 got a gift.”

Students from Southridge High School helped distribute presents to children at the party.

Wilson said the celebration is an important part of CPAH’s mission.

“You can really get a sense of the larger community support,” Wilson said. “There are a lot of community volunteers who want to help. Our volunteer Santa has come for over a decade. To see how much the community wants to help and support them is great. You see how much they are a part of the community and how we can work together to help everyone be successful and move forward.”

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