By Alana Smith In 2015, the Eatonville Family Agency (EFA) reached out to the Eatonville community in an ambitious effort to raise $30,000 in 30 days to help keep vital services available for the local community. The response was overwhelming and generated over $43,000. Those funds have helped EFA provide services, including food and clothing, school supplies and student weekend food assistance, rent and utility assistance, domestic violence assistance services, holiday food and toy distribution, DSHS enrollment and senior citizen activities. EFA utilized the generously donated funds along with many grants and other donations throughout the year. We were able to accommodate an increased number of clients, as well as hire additional staff to help support the added number of clients. We also improved our operations to be more efficient and effective in how we provide the weekend student meal program by providing each family with their own crock pot and the ingredients to help feed the whole family each weekend instead of just individual students. EFA is proud to be in a positive financial state, but continues to see more demand for services as the number of new clients coming in continues to rise. The new clients coming through our doors are families with two working parents who are finding themselves unable to make ends meet. They are our neighbors, friends and family members who are working hard to provide but find that in the end, their paychecks just don't cover all the expenses. In the first quarter of 2016, we have seen a 49 percent increase in food bank clients but only a 32 percent increase in food donations. This means we are serving 1,200 more clients in the Eatonville School District. As a result of this increase, our food pantry shelves are constantly being depleted. We are currently seeking new options for food supplies, but often find ourselves purchasing food in order to provide basic meals for our clients. Unfortunately, the need to feed our community is not something that will go away quickly. The services from EFA will be vital to our community now and long into the future. As we look ahead, we hope that the generosity of our community will continue as we turn last year's campaign into an annual appeal. We invite you to join us in our Aid the Agency annual campaign to raise $30,000 in 30 days. Please consider making a donation in the month of May to support this necessary fund-raising effort. We are also looking to engage the community in fund-raising activities on behalf of EFA. We encourage you to think of how you can help us help our clients. Whether it is a bake sale, a neighborhood collection or a yard sale, we hope that you will be creative and join our campaign. We ask that any events held on our behalf be announced to us in advance so that we can provide you with a letter explaining the need and validating your efforts. Please contact us at 360-832-6805 for more information. Thank you in advance for your generosity, and be sure to take part in these exciting events and activities being held on behalf of EFA: " May 6: May Day. Join the community in celebrating May Day at Eatonville High School. Stop by the EFA booth to learn about our services, make a donation and purchase your raffle tickets to win an exciting Northwest Adventure basket. \* May 7: Stop by Arrow Lumber from 8 to 11 a.m. to purchase some delicious treats form our bake sale. Then come back from 11 to 2 for a community barbecue with delicious Double T hot dogs. Suggested $5 donations for lunch. Arrow is donating a portion of the day's sales to EFA. " May 13: Stop by Kirk's Pharmacy from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. to get some delicious baked good. Can't get away from work to stop by? That's okay. We will have a runner going to local businesses for mobile goodie sales. " May 21: Join the Aid the Agency 5K Fun Run/Walk and 1K Kids Dash on the beautiful Bud Blancher Trail. Registration is $25 in advance, $35 day of for the 5K and $15/$25 for the 1K dash. Shirts will be guaranteed for those registering by May 15 at https://www.databarevents.com/aidtheagency5k " All month long: Purchase a coffee card at the Gypsy Wagon Espresso stand for only $10 and proceeds go to EFA. Round up your purchase and donate your change at Kirk's Pharmacy. Check out Cottage Bakery for a May special, with proceeds to benefit EFA. Make a donation directly to EFA online at www.eatonvillefamilyagency.com, in person at 305 W. Center St., or mail to P.O. Box 1764, Eatonville, WA 98328. Watch our website and Facebook page for more activities and events to be added. We thank you for your support and for helping us continue to care for our great community.
Alana Smith is executive director of Eatonville Family Agency. She wrote this article on behalf of the agency's Fund-Raising Committee members GÇô Jessica Moore, Peter Karlin, Laura Karlin, Emmy Lay and Sarah Cole.