[Hpn] seattletimes.com: Plenty of ways to give gift of helping others

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Plenty of ways to give gift of helping others
Full story: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/eastsidenews/2004046384_holidayhelp01e.html

By Sherry Grindeland and Nyssa Rogers
Seattle Times Eastside bureau

The best holiday spirit isn't found at the mall or at the company party. It doesn't come in a bottle, and it can't be ordered online. The true holiday high comes from sharing what you have and helping others, particularly the needy.

Just ask John O'Brien or Buzz Larson, board members and volunteers with the Forgotten Children's Fund. While other people have a dozen or so gifts to wrap, O'Brien and Larson oversee the wrapping of gifts for more than 2,000 youngsters. They have both volunteered with the Bothell-based group for 30 years.

"Once you don the Santa suit or get involved and go into a home and there's nothing there -- you're bringing new toys, warm jackets and food -- and you see the look on the mother's face and the joy on the youngsters' faces, you're hooked," O'Brien said. "I've actually cried in some of the homes." The Forgotten Children's Fund is one of many groups providing holiday gifts, food and warm clothing for needy children and their families. The Fund focuses on the working poor -- families undergoing temporary setbacks who need an extra hand during the holiday season.

"The most difficult task is screening the letters," said Larson, vice president of the group. "They come from single mothers, unemployed fathers and relatives in other cities without the means to help loved ones in the Puget Sound area."

Since the group started in 1976, it has distributed gifts to more than 60,000 kids.

There are many ways to donate.

Some groups, such as the Issaquah Food Bank and Overlake Service League, encourage donors to adopt families and provide toys, clothing and food. Hopelink only accepts unwrapped gifts and food. Home Instead, a senior-aid service, and the Salvation Army have set up giving trees to collect items for needy seniors. The Salvation Army also provides food and gifts to needy families.

Many churches, shopping centers and community centers have gift trees. Select a tag from a tree, buy the present suggested and return it to the group, which will have volunteers deliver it.

And then there's the gift that always fits: cash or a check. All social-service agencies can turn your monetary donation into someone else's happy holiday.

Here are some options for helping:

Multiple locations

Salvation Army Giving Trees

Thru Dec. 8 Choose gift requests from children in needy families and return the gifts to giving trees, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, at Apple Physical Therapy clinics in Bellevue, Kirkland, Newcastle, Renton and Sammamish. Call or visit the Web site for locations. (253-840-6448 or www.applept.com)

Friends of Youth Giving Trees

Thru Dec. 17 Many local businesses host trees hung with gift requests. Choose one to fulfill with new, unwrapped items for young people up to age 25. Locations include Bellevue City Hall; Mary, Queen of Peace Roman Catholic Church, in Sammamish; East Shore Unitarian Church, in Bellevue; and Redmond Town Center. For other locations call 425-869-6490, Ext. 309 or visit www.friendsofyouth.org)

Toys for Tots

Thru Dec. 20 New, unwrapped toys may be donated at most local fire stations; deadlines vary by agency. Contact your city hall or visit your city's Web site for fire-station locations.

Holiday Angels Joy Drive

Thru Dec. 24 New unwrapped books, toys, movies and CDs, and items for infants and teens, will be collected at area Starbucks stores for seriously ill and disabled children by the Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation. (425-861-7827 or www.starlight-washington.org)

Humane Society Pet Food Drive

Thru Dec. 30 All types of pet food, especially dry cat food, may be donated at drop-off barrels in area Safeway stores and also 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Seattle Humane Society, 13212 S.E. Eastgate Way. (425-649-7567 or www.seattlehumane.org)


Ongoing Five Eastside food banks -- and one in Shoreline -- are accepting food donations and new, unwrapped clothing, toys, baby and personal-care items and gift certificates; clothing and gift items for teens especially needed. Giving trees with individual gift requests are also available at many locations throughout the area. (425-869-6000 or www.hope-link.org)

Northwest Harvest

Ongoing Nonperishable food donations are collected at businesses throughout the region, including many UPS Store locations on the Eastside. Groups or businesses also can sign up to hold food drives. (800-722-6924 or www.northwestharvest.org)


Holiday Wishes

Thru Dec. 6 Tags bearing gift requests of local families in need are available for shoppers to take

and return with the selected gift during regular mall hours in Center Court at Bellevue Square, Northeast Eighth Street and Bellevue Way Northeast. (425-454-8096)

Holiday Food Drive

Thru Dec. 12 Food donations for baskets to be distributed at the Crossroads Community Holiday dinner are accepted at Bellevue's city halls, community centers, the Botanical Garden and several other city facilities. (425-452-6182 or www.bellevuewa.gov)

The Landing

Ongoing Overnight shelter for homeless young people 18-24 needs blankets and personal-care items, especially razors and shaving cream. At the Bellevue Family YMCA, 14230 Bel-Red Road. (425-822-9349 or www.friendsofyouth.org/landing.asp)


Giving Tree

Dec. 3-18 Pick a child's wish from the giving tree at Keepsake Cottage and bring the gift from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays, Country Village, 23732 Bothell-Everett Highway. (425-486-3483 or 425-483-2250)

Forgotten Children's Fund

Thru Dec. 21 Volunteers needed to staff Santa's workshop sorting and wrapping gifts for families in need. Shifts are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. daily through Dec. 21 at this year's "North Pole," 21717 30th Drive S.E. (425-481-1383 or www.forgottenchildrensfund.org)


Toys for Tots

Thru Dec. 22 New, unwrapped toys collected for the U.S. Marine Corps giving program, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily (until 3 p.m. Dec. 22), Cougar Mountain Zoo, 19525 S.E. 54th St. (425-391-5508 or www.cougarmountainzoo.org)

Eastside Baby Corner

Ongoing Needed are: formula, baby food, disposable diapers, and new and gently used clothes for newborns and children to age 12, especially coats and long pants, 7-8:30 p.m. Mondays; 9-11 a.m. Thursdays, 1510 N.W. Maple St. (425-865-0234 or www.babycorner.org)

Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank

Ongoing Needed: food, especially canned meats and fish; coats and blankets, 8 a.m.-noon Mondays and Fridays; 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; nonfood items may be left in the 24-hour donation box in front of the building, 179 First Ave. S.E. (425-392-4123 or www.issaquahfoodbank.org)


Holiday Tree Sale

Thru Dec. 22 Proceeds help fund youth trips to build homes in Tijuana, 5-9 p.m. Fridays; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturdays; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 22, St. John Vianney Church, 12600 84th Ave. N.E. (425-823-6840)

Mercer Island

Mercer Island Youth and Family Services Food Pantry

Ongoing Nonperishable food items needed, especially fruit and seasonal treats, and gift cards for gas and groceries, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, 2040 84th Ave. S.E. (206-236-3525)


Home Team Harvest Food Drive

Today KING-5 personalities collect nonperishable food items and cash to benefit Northwest Harvest, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Center Street Plaza at Redmond Town Center, 16595 N.E. 74th St. (425-867-0808 or www.redmond.gov)

Children's Hospital Toy Drive

Thru Dec. 15 Donate a toy on the hospital's wish list and receive a regular oil change and car wash, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday by appointment, AA Auto Service Center, 8004 Avondale Way N.E. Find the wish list at www.aaautoservicecenter.com/WishList.pdf (URL is case-sensitive); appointments: (425-558-1092 or www.aaautoservicecenter.com)

Redmond Town Center Sharing Tree

Thru Dec. 21 Choose gift-request tags and return new unwrapped items in the Center Street Plaza during regular mall hours, Redmond Town Center, 16495 N.E. 74th St. (425-867-0808)


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