A merry reminder of how community cares

By Alana Smith Words from a family helped this year at Christmas: "Thank you so much for all the presents we received. You helped to put a smile on my daughter's face on Christmas morning. We will always remember your generosity. You are an inspiration for others to do good in the community. I hope to one day be able to give back to other families in need, as you have inspired me to do so." Christmas is a reminder of the larger community that connects us together. This season brought to light the care that we have for one another in Eatonville. " The generosity in this community is overwhelmingly touching. In 2015, 760 individuals and families were helped, including over 290 children. Financial support allows Eatonville Family Agency the freedom to purchase things we need to buy that are not donated. These items and services very greatly from year to year. Donations from individuals, families, businesses and churches provide the major portion of our income. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Fund-raising events and grants provide the rest. In addition to buying food, financing our day-to-day operations, grocery gift cards for families and gift cards for teens are purchased and then distributed at the Christmas Giving Center. Eatonville is truly a better place to live when neighbors reach out to help neighbors. " Twenty-seven volunteers donated more than 371 hours in December. They worked for several weeks to set up the Christmas Giving Center and days before organizing toys, food and coats. They assisted the potential clients through the application process. They manned the registration desk, prepared food boxes, shopped with clients, restocked the toys and did whatever needed to be done during its five days of operation. At its conclusion, they dismantled the center. Our volunteers are the heart and soul of our Community Christmas. " We very literally could not do what we do without the huge response we receive throughout the year from our community. A huge thank you to all of you that brought in food in December for Christmas and your faithfulness throughout the year. Thank you, Arrow Lumber, for the 300 turkeys and spuds. Thank you, Eatonville schools and families, for the amazing food drives you held. Wilcox Farms GÇô the thousands of eggs you donated were so great, not something we generally have, and it was really nice to be able to give these to families at Christmas. " More than 275 coats were collected from our community; 190 of these were collected by a coat drive organized by Mountain Fitness and PostNet. Thank you. You rocked! There was a very special moment when we realized we didn't have enough coats for all the children signed up. It was the peak of our Christmas giving when, after a prayer being said, our special angel walked in and asked what do we need? A few hours later we had all the coats we needed. Our staff and clients were overwhelmed by the response of our community and the good, quality coats that came in. " Eatonville Family Agency extends a special thank you to the Toys for Tots campaign for its generous support. We also thank the many Eatonville businesses and individuals who donated gifts. Donations of new bedding, hats, gloves and miscellaneous household items were also donated by community members, clubs and groups. Clients selected available items for each member of their family. " The age and gender of the child, with a suggested gift, was written on a gift tag and hung on a Giving Tree located at the Eatonville Community Center and Eatonville branch of Key Bank, where it was selected by a caring resident. The unwrapped gifts were returned to the Giving Tree location and/or picked up by our volunteers for distribution to the children. This is a wonderful way to shop for specialized gifts for children. Thank you to all of you who shopped for these gifts. " Adopt-a-family. This year we had several families paired with a donor family, business, school, church, etc. The donor receives the family's Christmas wish list. We ask that they provide a couple of items from the list for each family member. The donor also includes non-perishable groceries for the Christmas meal as well as a food gift card to purchase a turkey, ham, etc. These families are so appreciative of having a Christmas that otherwise would not have happened. If you would like to adopt a family next Christmas, give us a call. From one of our donors: "We gave ourselves a different gift this year GÇô the gift of giving to others. More importantly, our personal Christmas spirits were revived this year when we were able to give to those who wished for something and really needed it.'
Alana Smith is executive director of Eatonville Family Agency.


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