Merry Christmas Issaquah brings holiday warmth
December 10, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
As a cold freeze covers the Pacific Northwest this holiday season, consider that the only source of heat for Marty Wright’s Issaquah-area home is a wood-pellet stove.
The stove is only effective, though, when it has the pellets, something the 26-year-old veteran could not afford.
Issaquah Community Services gave Wright the benefit of heat by funding the delivery of more than $200 worth of pellets, courtesy of The Grange Supply.
“It meant a great deal,” Wright said. “It kept me from freezing and actually allowed me to move around my house, because I do have fractured bones so when it does get cold in here I can’t really move around.”
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.
Wright moved to the Issaquah area in April with his fiancé. He served in the Army as a combat engineer until 2011.
He currently does not have an income as he waits to get approved for disability benefits, while receiving services for injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Wright said he sought other organizations for assistance as he and his fiancé moved to a new area, but only Issaquah Community Services really came through for them.
“They’re the only ones that actually stepped up and helped us,” he said.
2013 goal: $75,000
To date: $16,005
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.
The nonprofit is maintained by a team of 25 volunteers, allowing nearly every penny donated to go directly to the families in need.
The organization relies on a trained team to assist people in need — especially if the person requesting assistance is embarrassed or reluctant. That’s what Wright said he appreciated most about his interactions with staff.
“I felt very comfortable around them,” he said. “They were very respectful of my situation.”
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.
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.
“The organization has been a big help to me and my fiancé,” Wright said. “We definitely recommend if anybody’s having a hard time to go there and seek help.”