Highlands man forms giving club
February 2, 2009
By Jeff Richards
Issaquah Highlands resident Tony Bristol was in the shower this summer thinking about the upcoming presidential elections and all the ways politicians like Barack Obama made a difference for people in this country and around the world.
Feeling inspired, Bristol wondered how he could make a difference in his own community.
“I thought, ‘What is the reason why people don’t contribute at all to their communities?’ and I looked to myself for my own reasons,” Bristol said. “For me, it has always been, I don’t know where to start and I don’t have enough time.”In October, Bristol brought together eight families for the first meeting of the Issaquah Highlands Contribution Club. The goal of the club was to give back to the community through one charitable cause each quarter of the year.
The weekend of Dec. 20-21, they managed to collect 12 SUV loads worth of food from more than 90 percent of the households in the highlands. The food went to the Issaquah Food Bank.
“Given where our country is at, where our community is at, I thought, ‘We gotta do something here,’” Bristol said. “We can’t just sit back and wait for someone else to do this.”
Bristol started by voicing his ideas to neighbors and friends, all of whom promised support should he get something started.
“We’ve all been blessed with a lot here in Issaquah,” said Anne Hartzell, a club member and neighbor. “This gave us a chance to give back to the community and to teach our children about the importance of giving.”
Bristol said he knew the food bank was hurting for some support, and so that became the first goal of the club.
Efforts to advertise were unsuccessful, and so the club took to the streets to get the word out about what they were doing.
“We took a guerilla approach, putting up flyers and going door to door,” Bristol said. “Some didn’t think it could work.”
Despite poor weather conditions in December, Hartzell and her 4-year-old daughter went around the neighborhood posting flyers on windshields and doorsteps one week before the club planned to collect.
“One of the goals was to teach our children the importance of giving, to show them how much we have. She was really anxious to get out there,” Hartzell said of her daughter.
Bristol said he formed the club not only to give back but as a chance to become a more personal part of his community.
He said he saw this in the door-to-door collection, as he witnessed smiles on the faces of those in his community when they handed over their food.
“It was amazing when you actually get to see generosity from people,” he said. “We all walked away feeling energized, feeling like we want to do this again.”
How to help
The next club meeting is Feb. 20. Contact the club through its Facebook group, the Issaquah Highlands Contribution Club, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.