Merry Christmas Issaquah inspires giving

December 6, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

Sometimes asking for help is difficult.

Alison Yi learned as much as childcare, housing and transportation expenses mounted.

The recent Issaquah transplant logged hours on the road each weekday, shuttling her young children to preschool in Shoreline and then heading to work in the Renton School District. The constant commuting put a strain on a tight budget.

“It was really hard for me to decide, should I really go and get help from somebody who I don’t know?” she said. “I did, and I’m happy that I did. I learned something. There’s a place that you can get help, and have the person who needs help proceed with their goal and their life and be successful.”

Yi turned to Issaquah Community Services for help. The organization is in the midst of the holiday season Merry Christmas Issaquah fundraising drive.

Merry Christmas Issaquah

2011 goal: $65,000

To date: $21,530

How to help

Help by making a tax-deductible donation to Issaquah Community Services. The organization is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Send donations to Merry Christmas Issaquah, c/o The Issaquah Press, P.O. Box 1328, Issaquah, WA 98027. The names of donors — but not amounts — are published in The Press unless anonymity is requested.

Issaquah Community Services is the all-volunteer nonprofit organization responsible for dispersing the donations to families living inside Issaquah School District boundaries. Merry Christmas Issaquah is the organization’s most important fundraiser of the year.

The organization offers rent assistance if eviction is imminent, help with utility bills if the provider is threatening shutoff or emergency transportation.

Yi said the financial demands after moving to Issaquah in June meant she had to juggle many commitments — and could not afford to set aside money for rent.

“The gas money, the time — it was just too much,” she said.

Yi assists in special-education classrooms in Renton schools and intends to pursue a master’s degree to teach special education. The boost from Issaquah Community Services made her even more eager to contribute to society.

“I want to be successful,” she said. “They motivated me to be more successful and give back to society.”

Issaquah Community Services helped 503 families from October 2010 to October 2011. Holiday donations through Merry Christmas Issaquah enable the organization to help people in the coming year.

The fund has received more than $700,000 in donations since starting in 1981. The holiday fundraising drive accounts for about 65 percent of Issaquah Community Services’ annual budget.

The city provides office space and overhead, so 100 percent of donations go to people in need.

Merry Christmas Issaquah set a record last year as 215 donors contributed $66,297. The goal for the 2011 fundraising drive is $65,000.

“There’s nothing to be ashamed of asking for help, or sharing that you’re in financial hardship,” Yi said.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or Comment at

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