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Country Fair names recipients of grants.

Byline: Susan Palmer The Register-Guard

School arts programs, low-income families, injured wildlife, ex-convicts trying to turn their lives around. All just got a financial boost from the Oregon Country Fair.

The nonprofit organization is better known for its annual three-day party on the banks of the Long Tom River, scheduled for this coming weekend.

But it also has a long tradition of giving back to the community. In the past 10 years, the fair has donated $264,380 to nonprofit agencies and youth groups in Lane County.

This year is no exception, with almost $30,000 planned for 10 organizations and schools. The grantees have been selected, but the actual funds are contingent upon fair revenue. The fair's Bill Wooten Endowment Fund - which supports youth programs and environmental education projects - will give $9,750 in support of, among other things, a mural at Veneta Elementary School and an art program for Camp Fire USA participants at Camp Wilani.

The fair's Vision Fund will donate $20,000 to social services programs, including $5,000 to Sponsors Inc., a Eugene-based organization that helps people newly released from prison transition back into their communities.

The $5,000 will help Sponsors clients buy prescription medications - drugs that help control diabetes and high blood pressure, for example, agency Executive Director Ron Chase said.

People with health problems are released from prison with a small supply of prescription drugs.

They often return into communities broke, unemployed and without health insurance, and the jobs they can get rarely include health benefits, Chase said.

Sponsors helps about 175 men and 75 women every year.

The $5,000 will probably last the agency about six months, Chase said.

The fair's money for Head Start of Lane County will be spent on bus passes for families who live in rural areas.

The transportation aid will help bring children and parents into Eugene and Springfield for Head Start programs and other services.

The money will fill a gap created by recent budget cuts, program director Karen Hamilton said.

It will provide about 100 families with day passes, 20 with one-month passes and 20 with three-month passes, she said.

Families in communities such as Oakridge, Junction City and Creswell will receive the passes.

But some also will be available for people living in Eugene and Springfield with emergency transportation needs.

The support for school arts programs has filled a vital niche as school budgets have shrunk in recent years, according to Veneta and Elmira school officials.

"It's because the schools have lost so much of their budgets, that we support them," said Clare Feighan, a member of the fair's Endowment Fund Committee.

OREGON COUNTRY FAIR GRANTS

The Oregon Country Fair's Bill Wooten Endowment Fund supports art and environmental education programs in the Veneta and Elmira areas. The Jill Heiman Vision Fund provides money to nonprofit social services groups. Here are this year's recipients.

Applegate Art Guild: $2,000 for visual artists in residence program in conjunction with Elmira Elementary School

Camp Fire USA: $2,000 for an arts project at Camp Wilani near Veneta that incorporates recycled materials

Elmira Elementary School: $1,750 for music education program

Veneta Elementary School: $2,000 for an artists-in-residence program

Arts for Youth and the Wildlife Home Care Network: $2,000 for arts project that allows students to draw from the natural environment

Sponsors Inc.: $5,000 for prescription drugs for men and women just out of prison who don't have health care insurance

Huerto de la Familia: $5,000 to support vegetable gardens plot for Latino families

St. Vincent de Paul: $5,000 to provide medical and dental care for homeless families

Head Start of Lane County: $3,600 to provide bus passes for families in outlying areas

Florence Food Share: $2,000 for emergency food distribution
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Title Annotation:Festivals; The organization plans to hand out nearly $30,000 to 10 nonprofits and schools
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jul 4, 2005
Words:632
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