Merry Christmas fund sets goal at $75,000

November 19, 2013

By Christina Corrales-Toy

In 2008, former Issaquah resident Ellen Loney had arguably the worst month of her life.

In the span of just 30 days, Loney lost her job and her mother. She would have lost the roof over her head, too, if it weren’t for the generosity of a local nonprofit organization.

“It was a very bad month, a very bad time, and Issaquah Community Services saved the day,” Loney said in a phone interview from her new home in Lynnwood.

The all-volunteer organization offers emergency financial aid to residents of the Issaquah School District in the form of utility payments, rent assistance and other miscellaneous contributions, depending on a client’s specific need.

Issaquah Community Services helped Loney and her teenage son pay for rent as they got back on their feet.

“Emotionally, it just felt like everything was landing on us in that single month, and very few people were being sympathetic,” she said. “Issaquah Community Services lent a helping hand. I’ll always remember that.”

Merry Christmas Issaquah is the organization’s most important fundraiser all year. Organizers set a $75,000 goal for 2013.

The fundraiser — spearheaded by The Issaquah Press since 1981 — set a record for the number of donors last year with 244, but fell short of its $75,000 goal, raising $68,683.

“If you want a place that really does take the money and put it to work for the purpose that you donated it for, this is the place,” Loney said.

Issaquah Community Services receives about 500 requests for emergency aid each year. The organization currently has an annual budget of just more than $100,000.

“Needs are always increasing, and demand is always greater than the year before,” said Milicent Savage, Issaquah Community Services vice president. “There’s a lot of poverty and need here, even if you don’t see it.”

The nonprofit is maintained by a team of 25 volunteers, allowing nearly every penny donated to go directly to the families in need.

“It’s an organization started by good people who knew there was a need, and did something,” Savage said.

The holiday fundraising drive accounts for about 80 percent of Issaquah Community Services’ annual budget.

The fund has received more than $800,000 in donations since its inception.

About five years after Issaquah Community Services helped her and her son, Loney paid the generosity back, sending the organization a check, with interest, as a thanks for all that it did.

“At the time, it meant the world to me, and I made a mental memory that if I ever get any extra money, I’m going to pay them back, hopefully more than what they gave me so they can help somebody else,” she said. “It took me years, but I did it.”


2013 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.


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