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Taking Flight: Sponsoring Sparrows

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GRANTS PASS, Ore. — With Thanksgiving just a week away one local restaurant is celebrating a “month of giving thanks” by giving back to the community. Southern Oregon Elmer’s is collecting donations for Sparrow Clubs.

Hector Sanchez is the service manager at Taprock Northwest Grill.

“[I] make sure the food meets their expectations…make sure the employees are on track,” he says.

As he straightens the tables, he is reminded of one of the reasons he works so hard.

“She’s a strong fighter,” Hector says.

The table settings at Taprock and Elmer’s restaurants explain their involvement in Sparrow Clubs, asking you to “give wings to a child in need”, and at this restaurant, that child is Hector’s daughter, 2-year-old Eva.

“They told us she only had 48 hours to survive,” recalled Hector.

Eva was born premature at only 25 weeks suffering brain damage and ruptured lungs. She had surgery to install a shunt and started to improve, but about a year and a half later things took a turn for the worse.

“Her whole system was shutting down because one of the shunts wasn’t working properly,” says Hector.

Now, the 2-year-old is at a newborn’s level. She can’t use her mouth to eat, she is on oxygen 24 hours a day, and is blind.

“We’ve got to be strong for her,” Hector says. “Whatever you put out… that’s what they’re going to receive.”

Some of that strength is coming from Hector’s own workplace. With Eva’s picture as you enter Taprock, to Sparrows hanging from the ceiling and plastering the walls.

“It’s exciting… it makes me want to tear up,” Hector says.

But Eva isn’t the only Sparrow that Elmer’s is sponsoring this year. In fact, it has a goal to sponsor five children with life-altering or threatening illnesses – that’s one reason the company was selected to receive the Restaurant Neighbor Award for Oregon.

Now, it’s competing for recognition at the national restaurant level.

“It’s just that continuing paying it forward, and to see the youth in our community really adopt those values that Sparrow Clubs is really trying to enforce – it’s just incredible,” says Terry Hopkins, the VP of Southern Oregon Elmer’s.
Sparrow Clubs says the company is doing just that, paying it forward.

“It means that it’s not just helping a family, it’s not just helping a school, it’s spreading beyond that…it’s helping more people,” said Lindsey Lahr of Sparrow Clubs.

Southern Oregon Elmer’s says it’s matching the first thousand dollars raised in every store. For all five stores, that’s another $5,000 for Sparrow Clubs.