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Pendleton Provides

Tapping into the generosity of American consumers, Pendleton Home wrote out checks totaling more than $200,000 to three charities last year, donating a portion of the proceeds from specially themed blankets and throws.

"It's a great way of giving something back to the community," said Bob Christnacht, division manager of Pendleton Home, the rapidly growing home goods unit of Pendleton Woolen Mills. "It's not something we've talked about a lot, you get a little self-conscious about it, but it's a really important part of this company's heritage that we give something back to people and try to improve the quality of their lives. Non-profits are always looking for new ways to generate revenue, and this has really worked out well."

Pendleton has been doing this for several years, Christnacht said, donating 10% of the retail price of blankets and throws with specific themes. A case in point is a wool throw honoring the nation's veterans, which generated a $50,000 contribution to Fisher House, a groupthat provides free or low-cost accommodations to families visiting soldiers being treated in Veterans Administration Hospitals or on military bases.

"It's based on the Ronald McDonald House concept," said Christnacht. "Some of these families can't afford a hotel or motel for all the time, sometimes weeks, they need to spend with someone who's been seriously hurt. Some of these kids got blown up, and the least we can do is give something back to them."

Another $70,000 last year went to a local breast cancer charity. Each year Pendleton Home designs an item to be sold to benefit the charity, including women's scarves, throws, and the company's signature plaid shirts.

In a nod to the company's century-long history producing Native American blankets, and its close ties to Native American communities, Pendleton has given in excess of $100,000 each year to the Native American College Fund.

"You know, you hear about some of these casinos on reservations, but most of the reservations are incredibly poor and have so few resources for their kids. This gives something back to the tribes, and gives the kids on the reservations a chance to have a decent life by getting a real education," he said. "Pendleton has been close to the Native American community for all of its history, and this is a very major priority, funneling something back to the tribes."

Pendleton gives 10% of the retail rather than a portion of the profits, "because we want it to be a big chunk of change, a meaningful number. So our margins are thin, so what? It won't break the company. We've always done well enough, and we want to give some of it back."

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