FAMILIES NEED YOUR HELPNothing under the tree for some Lake Stevens families BY PAM STEVENS | EDITOR
The falling economy has had an effect on everyone this year and the Christmas season has made it especially hard for over 200 local families to provide Christmas for their children.
“It is our intent and hope that every person that asks for help through the Family Center receives at least one small gift for their child to find with surprise and awe on Christmas morning,” Kathleen Friend, Program Manager for the Lake Stevens Family Center said..
The Lake Stevens Family Center is doing all it can to provide these families with a few gifts to put under their tree so that they too can see the joy on their kid’s faces on Christmas morning.
However, with the lagging economy the list of families continues to grow by the day. Last year the Family Center helped 164 families with their Christmas needs. This year they already have 205 families in need of assistance and their contributions are down dramatically.
“I am positive that the obstacles we are facing in meeting the holiday assistance needs of local families is a direct reflection of our economy,” Friend said.
The Family Center has also had to cut back on what they are offering families due in part to the struggling economy and the drop in donations this season.
“Donations of gifts has decreased to less than one-third of historic support, Toys for Tots has indicated that their received donations is down to nearly nothing and have cancelled our pick up of toys for the Lake Stevens community and monetary support has dwindled from a historic $20,000 in past years to less than $2,000 collected this year,” Friend said.
Even with families in need more than in years past, the people who show up at the Family Center are thankful for any help they might receive.
“The families that we are trying to assist are receiving very little from us this year due to the decrease in incoming resources and yet we find these families to be more grateful than ever,” Friend said.
At this point, the Family Center will take any donations they can get but they seem to be having a harder time filling the needs of the older children, ages 11 and up. Most of these kids are asking for new socks and jackets.
Many businesses and organizations in the community have stepped up to help and many individual citizens have pitched in what they can, including the staff at the Family Center.
“We are so much committed to this that staff alone have donated well over $1,000 in toys and gifts and adopted families in an attempt to make this a reality,” Friend said. “I don’t know that we ourselves would be able to celebrate the holiday if a family that had come to us for this important assistance got left behind and I don’t know what happens to families that don’t get gifts I hope I don’t need to find out.”
For now they are continuing to fill all the orders they can with the hope that comes with Christmas, that all families will be able to receive something. They also appreciate all that has been done so far and the many hours that volunteers have put in to make the dreams of local kids come true.
“We are extremely grateful for all who meet a wish, adopt a family, or make a donation to help a family in need,” Linda Rudat, Program Coordinator for the Family Center said. “We are filling as many family requests as we possibly can with the generosity of many individuals and organizations in our community.”
If you would like to donate to the Family Center this year you can go to one of many local businesses and take a tag from one of the giving trees. Locations of giving trees are listed in the ad on page 2 of the Journal.
The original deadline for dropping off gifts was Wednesday, Dec. 17 but with the high demand the deadline has been extended to Friday, Dec. 19.
“Due to the enormous need, we have extended our deadline date for donations until the 19th, although we appreciate donations as early as possible to have time to process all of the many family gift bags,” Rudat said.
The Family Center is located in downtown Lake Stevens behind the Lake Stevens Library and can be reached by calling 425-397-7433.