Off the Press

December 7, 2010

By Greg Farrar

It is time to overcome hardship with giving

Let’s get right to the heart of the matter. Government budget cuts in 2011 are going to hurt the people who need the most help. With the federal, state, county and city dealing with huge revenue deficits — just when layoffs, furloughs and medical cost hikes are hurting most — the shredded social safety net is going to fail a lot of folks.

That’s why it is so important, in fact imperative, that this Christmas season we try to keep our local charities uppermost in our giving impulses. It’s the worst hardships those in need in the next calendar year will face that we need to anticipate and head off here and now.

In case a memory refresher will do some good, these are a few local places that can use our spirit of generosity:

Eastside Baby Corner in Issaquah provides for children in need from birth to age 12 throughout the Eastside. To quote their website, “What you give, we give, to Eastside families struggling with job loss, homelessness, medical crisis and poverty.”

I received a quote via e-mail from Karen Ridlon, the founder and executive director: “In this holiday season, with a colder than normal winter forecasted, let’s remember the children who are cold. Donations of gently used or new coats for the youngest, or long pants for school-aged kids, would be truly appreciated.”

Check out Eastside Baby Corner’s newly-updated website, and visit an open house of their facility this Thursday, Dec. 9, or next Thursday, Dec. 16, from 9 a.m. – 12 noon, for cookies, cider and a holiday tour.

The Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank gave out 48 turkeys for Thanksgiving, “but we ran out,” said Kim Ortego, assistant to the food bank director. “I hated to tell a lot of families and their children that we were out.”

Since then, two turkeys have found their way into the freezer as of Monday morning.

“We should need about 100 turkeys and 100 hams for Christmas,” Ortego said.

Become a friend of the food bank.

“We have just a handful of friends. We need 1,000,” says the website. “Can you commit $10 a month? Could your company perhaps commit $100 a month? Regular donations enable us to plan ahead and help more people.”

Friends of Youth has a comprehensive Winter Wish List on its website.

Can you take a few stocking stuffers to its Issaquah office on Front Street or administrative office in Redmond? There are lists of suggested stocking stuffers for infants, toddlers, junior high schoolers, high schoolers and older youths. “If it can fit in a stocking, it will bring a smile!”

And year-round, hygiene supplies, clothing, canned meals and even furniture items are welcome at the Redmond office.

Monetary gifts are also much needed, according to donation and volunteer coordinator Cheryl Schelle.

“Unrestricted funds especially provide the agency the ability to move the funds around to the programs that have the most urgent needs,” she said.

Compassion House now has emergency housing for four families at any one time, as they move in transition from untenable situations to self-sufficiency.

The congregations of Mountain Creek Christian Fellowship, Foothills Baptist and Covenant Presbyterian churches have been particularly involved in fundraising and volunteering, and welcome every kind of volunteer effort.

“If I’ve got one wish,” said Mark Miller, pastor of Mountain Creek, “it would be for employment for our residents. One, a single mother, is culinary trained. She’s outgoing and reliable, she’s done bartending and waitressing. She’s put in 25 applications in three weeks, waiting tables, anything for a job. Another woman is trained as a software technician. They need to be able to move toward independence.”

Merry Christmas Issaquah, sponsored by The Issaquah Press for 30 years, has a goal of $60,000 this year, for year-round emergency aid for families within the Issaquah School District boundary. It is the single fund drive that supports Issaquah Community Services, which takes referrals from local groups including the charities above, to help families with rent, utilities, automotive repairs and other financial emergencies.

ICS does not give the money directly to people, but works with the landlords, utility companies and local businesses to help those in need. There are no administrative expenses, thanks to the city covering the small operational cost.

One quote on the Compassion House website speaks for all: “We have seen families devastated by the financial collapse of the last four years. As our scope and size has grown, our financial needs have grown as well. We need your support to continue to assist families in rising above their challenges. Men, women, and children… will forever be in your debt.”

Greg Farrar: 392-6434, ext. 235, or gfarrar@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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