Merry Christmas Issaquah helps families in need
November 27, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
Soon after a pipe burst, a deluge of generosity descended on Judith Tetzlaff’s home.
In early November, a pipe burst in the bathroom at the Tiger Mountain mobile home Tetzlaff and her sister share. The estimated repair expense from the unexpected problem strained the sisters’ limited incomes.
“If you have any kind of unexpected expense, there goes either the repair or the groceries,” Tetzlaff said.
So, the sisters turned to Issaquah Community Services for assistance.
“We are by no means chronically indigent,” Tetzlaff said. “We’re just ordinary folks that have been having a real bad patch for a couple of months.”
2012 goal: $75,000
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 all year. Organizers set a $75,000 goal for 2012.
The organization offers rent assistance if eviction is imminent, help with utility bills if the provider is threatening shutoff or emergency transportation.
For Tetzlaff, Issaquah Community Services donated money for a plumber to repair the damaged pipe. In the meantime, she laid down every spare towel to soak up leaking water.
“God bless ICS,” Tetzlaff said.
Merry Christmas Issaquah — spearheaded by The Issaquah Press since 1981 — set a donation record last year, but the $77,362 raised could barely meet demand. The number of donors last year, 231, also set a record.
“The money that’s donated is helping folks that live right here in Issaquah,” Tetzlaff said.
Issaquah Community Services faced increased demand for aid — so great the organization shut down for more than a week in June after exhausting funds for the month.
The organization reopened to clients in July, but demand remains high, and leaders asked the public to consider donations in order for Issaquah Community Services to continue providing aid.
The holiday fundraising drive accounts for about 65 percent of Issaquah Community Services’ annual budget.
Issaquah Community Services is operated by about 25 volunteers. The city provides office space and overhead, so 100 percent of donations go to people in need.
The organization relies on a trained team to assist people in need — especially if the person requesting assistance is embarrassed or reluctant.
Recipients said donations from the organization come at a critical time, after other options dry up and disappear.
“As a matter of fact, I was just in the process of writing a thank-you letter to them because they were so helpful,” Tetzlaff said in a Nov. 26 interview.
The fund has received more than $785,000 in donations since starting in 1981.
In 2011, Issaquah Community Services provided more than $88,000 in assistance to local families — in the form of rent and utility assistance, or in some cases for bus fare.
Tetzlaff, a former donor to Merry Christmas Issaquah, said the fundraising drive leads to real results for people in the community.
“When things were a little better, we always contributed to the Christmastime fund,” she said. “Now, we’re very grateful to be able to take advantage of it.”