Gift program brings holiday cheer to families in need

November 12, 2013

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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

The Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank, though, is doing its part to bring holiday cheer to all through its gift giving program.

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

Last year, volunteers transformed Pickering Barn into a department store where families could shop through a room full of donated toys and then give them to their children. The switch to the shopping model was so popular, the food bank plans to do it again this year.

“People loved it,” said Rebecca Rayner, the food bank’s program coordinator. “Donors, volunteers and families saw the value in it.”

The program previously followed an adopt-a-family model, where clients would provide a wish list and donors would be matched with specific families.

Donors can still contribute clothes, toys and stocking stuffers, but now, families get to visit Pickering Barn over a two-day period and actually choose their holiday gifts.

When Pickering Barn opens to clients Dec. 11-12, expect to see a festive atmosphere with Christmas music, snacks and decorations. Families must live in the Issaquah School District and register for the gift-giving program on the food bank’s website by Nov. 30 to qualify.

The food bank welcomes donations of toys, books, board games, warm clothing and gift wrapping supplies. Gifts will specifically be collected to benefit children and teenagers 18 and younger.

Interested donors are encouraged 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 for an estimated 1,000 children.

Donation drop-off and setup is Dec. 9-10 from 1-7 p.m. both days at Pickering Barn. The food bank does not have room to store donations, so contributors are asked to bring gifts directly to Pickering Barn on these days.

Gifts must be new and unwrapped, so customers can see what they’re selecting.

“It’s a really fun atmosphere,” Rayner said, “and an easy sell for volunteers and donors.”

 

how to help

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

 

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