Merry Christmas Issaquah fund brings emergency aid to local families

December 7, 2010

By Staff

The Merry Christmas Issaquah 2010 fund drive is open, just as the bank account for emergency aid to local families is nearly depleted.

It’s often this way. It’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Issaquah Community Services, the all-volunteer nonprofit organization that dispenses the donated funds, gives all it can each year to a growing number of requests from Issaquah-area residents.

The organization counts on new donations to cover the next year’s requests. Those requests are up 65 percent in the last two years, so it is rare for anyone to get more than $200 in assistance with rent, utilities, a car repair or another dire need.

“ICS funds are meager compared to the need in this community,” Issaquah Community Services volunteer and board member Jane Crum said. “When I look at our assistance records, I see how a small amount goes a very long way to making lives a little easier.

“Each year, I hope our donations will see us through to next year, and that one day we‘re able to increase the amount we provide.”

Crum recalls meeting a woman whose husband had been hurt. Because he did manual labor, he was unable to work. The couple had no health insurance.

“She had been referred to ICS by a local church,” Crum said. “They were longtime residents and always worked, but were just making ends meet. The woman said her landlord had been trying to help by reducing the rent and allowing them some grace time to catch up, in exchange for some chores.”

The couple had fallen farther and farther behind on rent, but kept paying as much as possible. Issaquah Community Services helped with a portion of the rent and the church that referred them also helped.

“I personally delivered the check to the landlord,” Crum continued. “He said this hard-working, quiet couple had been good tenants for years, always living modestly and within their means. An entire gamut of emotions emerged when I drove away.”

Issaquah Community Services volunteers see a wide variation between the haves and have-nots.

“Some have worked hard for their money and some have serendipitously received it,” Crum said. “But our disgust with slackers should never supercede our charity toward the many who are suffering while honestly making the effort to get by day by day.”

Merry Christmas Issaquah and Issaquah Community Services are known for helping neighbors who help themselves. More than $650,000 has been donated — and used for emergency relief — since the fund started in 1981.

The fund drive accounts for about 65 percent of Issaquah Community Services’ annual budget. Thanks to office space and overhead provided by the city of Issaquah, 100 percent of donations goes to those in need.

Merry Christmas Issaquah received $53,077 from 205 donors last year. The goal for the 2010 fund drive has been set at $60,000.

Send donations to Merry Christmas Issaquah, c/o The Issaquah Press, P.O. Box 1328, Issaquah, WA 98027. Donation names, but not dollar amounts, will be published unless anonymity is requested.

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