Recently, a huge wildfire devastated whole communities along the McKenzie River in Lane County, Oregon. For several weeks, hundreds of people were evacuated from the homes as thousands of firefighters battled the blaze day and night. For Allen Patel, owner of the Royal Inn in Eugene, it was a time of great stress and worry for those affected throughout the community.

“The pandemic has been very difficult for the entire hotel industry, and certainly for us as well,” says Patel, “but coupled with the fires, it has been an especially dark time in this community.”

Yet, as someone who provides shelter to many, Patel was not going to sit by and let others suffer. That is why his banker knew he would be eager to join in the Bank’s Pass It On Project. “I’m providing free rooms to people who have lost their homes in the fires,” he says. “I know they can use a place to stay without worrying about rent, and with Columbia Bank picking up the bill, we are going to be able to remove a big worry for them.”