Merry Christmas Issaquah inspires giving

December 6, 2011

Sometimes asking for help is difficult.

Alison Yi learned as much as childcare, housing and transportation expenses mounted.

The recent Issaquah transplant logged hours on the road each weekday, shuttling her young children to preschool in Shoreline and then heading to work in the Renton School District. The constant commuting put a strain on a tight budget.

“It was really hard for me to decide, should I really go and get help from somebody who I don’t know?” she said. “I did, and I’m happy that I did. I learned something. There’s a place that you can get help, and have the person who needs help proceed with their goal and their life and be successful.”

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Merry Christmas Issaquah makes a difference all year

November 29, 2011

Issaquah Community Services is highlighting successes to help people in need as the annual Merry Christmas Issaquah fundraising drive opens.

The organization provided a lifeline to Vicky Tranilla as her husband battled cancer.

“We got behind on our bills, and I was paying the medical bills for his cancer instead of paying the bills for the rent and power, because my husband came first,” she said.

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 of the year.

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Cougar Mountain Zoo hosts 23rd annual Issaquah Reindeer Festival

November 29, 2011

One of Santa’s sled-propulsion units walks about for exercise before Christmas Eve last year in the front yard of Santa’s House at Cougar Mountain Zoo. By Greg Farrar

First held in 1988, the annual Issaquah Reindeer Festival runs Dec. 1-23 at the Cougar Mountain Zoo.

Zoo General Curator Robyn Barfoot said the event regularly attracts up to 10,000 visitors. Some travel relatively long distances to make it to the festival, even coming from well east of the Cascades.

“It’s a family tradition for many people,” Barfoot said.

Although the zoo is technically closed for the season, 10 of Santa’s reindeer team will be ready and awaiting visitors daily.

At the Magic Forest, visitors can hand feed the South American reindeer. And among numerous other activities, kids and parents also can visit Santa in his house and get a picture with the jolly old elf.

Visitors can also listen to stories read by an elf, see Santa’s sleigh, shop and pick up hot drinks and snacks. The younger set also can write a letter to Santa and then place it in his personal mailbox.

The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. Santa will take a lunch break roughly from 1-1:30 p.m. daily. Pictures with Santa are $15 for the first shot and $10 for additional shots. You can take your own pictures for a fee.

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Issaquah decks the halls with holiday happenings

November 29, 2011

All around Issaquah, it’s beginning to look a lot like the holidays.

From downtown Issaquah to Gilman Village to the historic train depot, signs of the coming holidays are starting to sprout.

Gilman Village Merchants and the Cascade Team Real Estate are the primary sponsors for a holiday happening from 5-8 p.m. Dec. 10 at St. George’s Square in Gilman Village, 355 N.W. Gilman Blvd.

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Issaquah Christmas fund beats goal

January 11, 2011

The Merry Christmas Issaquah fund drive closed Jan. 10 with donations of $66,042 — a 24 percent increase from last year’s donations.

Only a week earlier, donations were well below the targeted goal of $60,000, but an anonymous $10,000 donation and 21 other donations that arrived last week made this the most successful fund drive in the 30 year history of Issaquah Community Services. Read more

Donations needed to help fund for needy meet goal

January 4, 2011

It is very likely the Merry Christmas Issaquah emergency aid fund could end with less than the goal for only the second time in its 30-year history.

It usually takes about 200 individual donors for the fund to reach its goal, and nearly that many have already contributed. Donations received as of Jan. 3 were equal to 2009 donations of $53,000. Read more

Christmas fund provides hope, smiles

December 28, 2010

$21,000 needed to reach 2010 goal

Issaquah Community Services opens its office one hour a week to meet with people in financial crisis. It’s not typically a happy place, but lately it’s had its moments of hope and joy.

Over the past couple of months, at least three former clients who had previously received help with rent or utilities or maybe a car repair have stopped in to thank the Issaquah Community Services volunteers and share their good news — they got a new job! Two reported high-tech jobs, while another is now a full-time nanny. The smiles said it all — their life was looking brighter and more secure. Read more

Press Editorial

December 21, 2010

The Christmas spirit means helping others

Christmas giving will reach its heights over the next few days, but year-end charitable giving still has another 10 days to go. Most donors have their priorities, choosing donations that match their own passions, and usually including a few checks for human services.

Issaquah has a bevy of great agencies to donate to, but Issaquah Community Services stands out for the emergency financial relief it provides for area families fighting to keep the heat on and the rent paid while they seek new jobs or seek other resources of help. Read more

Volunteers count on Merry Christmas fund to help families

December 14, 2010

Emergency relief for Issaquah area families is the one and only focus of Issaquah Community Services. But Issaquah Community Services could not exist without contributions from others. Two-thirds of its annual budget comes from donations to the annual fund drive known as Merry Christmas Issaquah.

But Issaquah Community Services also couldn’t be there for those in need without dedicated volunteers who meet with those seeking help, giving referrals and a small bit of financial help.

Issaquah Community Services volunteers work in pairs on a rotating schedule 9-10 a.m., five days a week. One busy day earlier this fall, there was the usual knock on the door, located at the fire station on Sunset Way. Read more

Hallelujah! Sing & Play-Along Messiah returns

December 14, 2010

There are few classical holiday songs as iconic as Handel’s “Messiah.” St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church invites the community to experience the choral masterpiece while helping others in need.

The church presents Sing & Play-Along Messiah at 2 p.m. Dec. 19. Singers of all ages, abilities and skill levels are invited to join the choir and instrumentalists comfortable playing Baroque music are welcome to join the orchestra. Everyone else is invited to the experience, which benefits the Merry Christmas Issaquah fund — 100 percent of donations go toward helping local families in need. Read more

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