Michael Bride had an impulse to help the homeless last year, and turned that impulse into an impromptu event, Operation: Brown Bag Christmas. This year, he is on a mission to increase the holiday spirit of giving to more homeless in our region.
Now in its second year, Operation: Brown Bag Christmas, is a grassroots volunteer effort to collect snack foods, toiletry items, clean socks and gloves, bag them up in a brown paper bag, and distribute them to the homeless in our community.
Last year, in just a few weeks and with just seven volunteers and word of mouth via social media, over 250 men, women and children in Snohomish County were recipients of Brown Bag Christmas gifts filled with donations by the community.
This year, Bride wants to expand the efforts of Operation: Brown Bag Christmas. He and four teams of volunteers have already started setting up collection boxes throughout Puget Sound from Bellingham to South Seattle.
The deadline for making donations is December 18, then teams of volunteers will fill the brown bags and distribute them December 20-22. "Our goal is to reach 1,000 homeless men, women and children," wrote Bride in an email interview.
In the Northshore area, collection boxes can be found at the Woodinville Weekly’s office, 13400 NE 175th Street, Amai Day Spa in Bothell’s Country Village and at Balance Yoga Studio, 14111 NE Woodinville-Duvall Rd., in Woodinville. A donation box is also set up on the Microsoft campus and at the Redmond Eagles Club on Avondale Road. A complete list of current donation locations and addresses throughout the Puget Sound region can also be found on the Operation: Brown Bag Christmas website, below.
Besides donating needed items, Operation: Brown Bag Christmas is also seeking businesses wishing to be a drop-off location, and volunteers to help sort, bag up, and distribute the brown bags. The website offers a form to fill out for those interested in helping out.
Bride has also set up a Go Fund Me page on the website for those wishing to make a monetary donation. At this time, the Operation: Brown Bag Christmas is not a registered nonprofit, but Bride is considering that option for 2014. "It was just a last minute idea last year, that has blossomed into an exciting grassroots, community driven entity," wrote Bride.
For more information on donation locations, volunteer opportunities, and the link to the Go Fund Me page, visit the group’s website: www.operation brownbagchristmas.com. They also have a Facebook page, Operation: Brown Bag Christmas, which will post updates.