Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank holiday program helps children

November 13, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

The holiday season can be a stressful time for families struggling through a difficult financial situation.

But the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank is doing its part to bring holiday cheer to all through its holiday gift-giving program.

Caring Through Sharing ensures that families in need get to experience the joy of the holiday season and that each child has a present to open.

“It’s not in our mission necessarily to do holiday gifts for families; we’re really focused on basic needs, but we see this as a really important part of our community,” said Cori Kauk, executive director at the food bank.

In the past, the program has followed an adopt-a-family model, where clients would provide a wish list and donors would be matched with specific families.

How to help

Learn more about the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank’s holiday gift-giving program at www.issaquahfoodbank.org. The deadline to register to participate is Nov. 30.

This year, Kauk has decided to change it up and instead offer a department store model. Donors can still contribute clothes, toys and stocking stuffers, but now, families will be able to visit Pickering Barn over a two-day period and actually choose their holiday gifts.

“The really great part of this change is that parents get to pick out the right things for their children,” she said.

When Pickering Barn opens to clients Dec. 12-13, expect to see a festive atmosphere with Christmas music, snacks and even personal shoppers that can assist parents as they look for the perfect gift for their children, Kauk said.

“You don’t get personalized shoppers when you go to Fred Meyer, so hopefully that will be unique,” she said.

Parents are encouraged to leave their children at home while they shop, if possible, Kauk said.

Another change to this year’s program is that it is only for children. Gifts will specifically be collected to benefit children and teenagers 18 and younger.

Families must live in the Issaquah School District and register for the program by Nov. 30.

“I think holiday shopping can be pretty stressful and I’m hoping that, because everything is free, that it will help take that burden off of families,” Kauk said.

The gift-giving program has been a long tradition in the Issaquah School District, as classes often worked together to benefit groups in the adopt-a-family model. The schools continue to be the primary donors, but it’s also a great way for businesses to get involved in their local communities, Kauk said.

“This is a great program for businesses to kind of rally their co-workers together and just come together as an organization in the spirit of giving,” she said.

Donors are asked to fill out a commitment letter on the food bank’s website, so the staff has an idea of how many gifts will be available to benefit an estimated 1,000 children, Kauk said.

The food bank welcomes donations of toys, books, board games, warm clothing and gift wrapping supplies, Kauk said.

“We kind of encourage people to do the buy one, give one shopping model,” she said. “So if you are buying something for your own child, buy two of them and donate the other one.”

Drop off donations at Pickering Barn Dec. 10-11.

The food bank also needs more than 60 volunteers each day to help staff the two-day shopping event, Kauk said.

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