Of the Keizertimes

Donna Burleigh didn’t want issues to drag down her Christmas.

Burleigh, who has run S&D Exotic Bird Rescue in Keizer the past nine years, wanted to do just the opposite: she wanted to brighten Christmas for a local family.

“I’m trying to get into the Christmas spirit,” said Burleigh, who noted family health and legal issues of late. “It’s been kind of tough. But then I think I’ve got my tree up, decorations are up and we’ll get by. I wanted to give back to the community after nine years of placing birds.”

Last week Burleigh stopped by Copper Creek Mercantile on River Road for a regular purchase of bird seed. While there, she spotted a Christmas tree lot. She quickly worked out a deal with the staff at Copper Creek: she purchased a tree and asked staff to collect names of possible families to give the tree to.

“She’s a generous gal,” Steve Weadick of Copper Creek said about Burleigh. “She comes here once a week and really helps with bird rescues. I love the idea. We jumped right on it.”

Burleigh figured something positive would lift the spirits of everyone, not just the winning family.

“Everywhere we look it’s something depressing,” she said. “But there are people out there worse off than we are. We have to be thankful.”

Burleigh has a challenge for the community as a whole.

“I’m encouraging people to have dinner with someone who will be alone on Christmas,” she said. “We all do our own thing and turn the other cheek. When I was a kid, we would be there for others. I see a real need out here.”

Burleigh doesn’t want the holiday cheer to end with the holidays.

“Next year I want to do something all year long,” said Burleigh, who recently became a first-time grandma. “What I see in Keizer is a need for Toys for Tots. We need a place to store the toys like they do up in Portland.”