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The hits just keep coming at Cle Elum’s Putnam Centennial Center during 2020.

The center has been forced to cancel its annual community Thanksgiving event for 2020 due to restrictions on public gatherings due to the pandemic. The annual event has traditionally served hundreds of residents and has always been free of cost to attendees.

“We generally have 150 to 200 people attend the event,” she said. “I think people in the community have known for quite some time. We were all hoping things would get better and we would be able to have that, but that didn’t happen.”

The cancellation of the Thanksgiving event is one of several setbacks the center has had to deal with over the course of the year. In a normal year, Klein said the center would generate income from renting out the space for gatherings, none of which have been able to occur since the first set of restrictions have been handed down from Olympia last spring.

“We cannot have more than 10 people,” she said. “We’ve had to stick by that for months and months. We haven’t had any rentals for the whole year, nothing.”

Klein said the restrictions on social gatherings also prohibited the center from having its annual Veterans Day breakfast to honor those who served.

“It’s been a hard time for people,” she said.

FORGING AHEAD THROUGH THE STRUGGLE

Many of the traditional events held at the center focus on providing a social space, especially for seniors in the community who may not have family living close by. Not only does the cancellation of the Thanksgiving event place a strain on those citizens’ ability to interact with others, Klein said the daily routine of offering breakfast and lunches at the center also has to come to a temporary end.

“With the new rule, we can’t let anybody come in to eat,” she said. “It is a big social thing for people.”

This week, Klein said the center is foregoing the breakfast offerings for the time being and focusing their energy on offering lunch meals for takeout. She said the center is also going to offer delivery of the meals during these tough times. The meal service is another lifeline of funding for the center, and Klein said residents have told her they plan on stepping up to support the center by purchasing the meals.

“People have come in and told me they really want to be supportive of the center,” she said. “They will continue to come in and get their takeout lunches.”

Although it has been extremely difficult to recruit volunteers to help out during the center amidst the pandemic, Klein said community members who have or are willing to attain a Washington State food handler’s card are welcome to help. She said the center may also need people to help deliver the meals if demand calls for it.

For several years, Klein said the center has organized a Christmas food basket and gift drive for Upper County families in need, and she said the center remains committed to that program’s success in 2020.

“We are still doing that this year,” she said. “People are welcome to call us if they need food or gifts for their children.”

Citizens who want to help the center in distributing items to families in need are welcome to contact Klein at the center to arrange donations. She said food items and toys are always gratefully accepted for the holiday drive.

“Canned vegetables, canned fruits, a turkey,” she said. “Anything like that. People are also welcome to come and adopt a family. I don’t give out the names, but I give out the number of people in the family and their ages. People can do that if they want to.”

Despite the rocky road that has been 2020, Klein said the center remains committed to staying around to serve Upper County residents once the pandemic has resided. In the meantime, she said the center and its volunteers will continue to find ways to aid the community as much as possible.

“None of us have had a year before like this year has been, but we’re going to hang in there,” she said. “We’re going to keep going.”

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