Northwest NEWS

November 19, 2001



Hopelink makes holiday wish list

by Bronwyn Wilson
   Senior Staff Reporter
   Last Christmas, a single mom realized she couldn't afford to buy gifts for her kids. As she recounts the story, the Woodinville mom asks that her name remain anonymous.
   The mother had already skipped paying some of her bills in order to pay for groceries. There wasn't any money for Christmas presents. She promised her kids that they would celebrate Christmas when she received her income tax refund. And that is what they did.
   During the springtime, when tulips emblazoned the neighborhood in bright colors, she and her kids finally enjoyed Christmas.
   "It's really hard to make ends meet," she said, adding that even though she works and receives child support, it's not enough.
   Then, last summer she heard about Hopelink and the services they provide for people in situations like hers. At first she was hesitant to ask for help. "It was really hard for me to go there," she explained. She was surprised, however, at how caring and understanding the people at Hopelink are.
   "The people there are so nice," she recalled. After registering with the agency, she began going to the food bank almost weekly. "In the summer, they gave us two huge boxes of peaches," she continued, saying that she canned some of the peaches and used others to make a peach pie. "When you're trying to stretch your dollar, it helps." Her weekly trips to the food bank now offset her grocery bill. Hopelink has also helped her in other ways, such as the time she received a shut off notice from the power company. "Hopelink paid the whole power bill," she said, still amazed. She says that even though she was reluctant to seek help at first, she's now glad that she did.
   Hopelink's mission is to promote self-sufficiency for low-income and homeless families in the community. The organization has served families since its beginning in 1971 when it provided job referrals during the Boeing layoffs that year. Churches jumped in to help with a food bank and Hopelink (formerly Multi-Service Centers of North and East King County) never looked back.
   However, due to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Hopelink has been in need of donations more than ever, so they can continue to assist people like the single mom in Woodinville.
   "Donations are definitely down and the food supplies are low," said Doreen Marchione, Hopelink's executive director.
   Since the terrorist attacks, there's been a downturn in giving to local organizations. Many have sent their donations to the Red Cross and other funds that help the New York families affected by the attacks. Marchione hopes that people in the community will think about giving to the local agencies and food banks over the holidays.
   She added that the need is even greater with the Boeing layoffs coming up. Said Marchione, "We'll need the community to support us with donations of cash and food."
   Teresa Andrade, Manager for Hopelink's Northshore office, agreed. "We're really counting on the support of the community this year." Andrade has worked with Hopelink for many years and said that she has never seen the food banks as low as they are.
   "Many people said they sent to New York." The food bank shelves are low on everything, even the basics like soup, pasta and rice.
   In addition, Marchione explained that the agency makes an effort to provide extras. "We give out extra food for the holidays," she said. "We try to give the extras so they can have flour and sugar to bake over the holidays."
   Ingredients to bake cookies are not the only 'extra' Hopelink provides. They also provide a Holiday Gift Room, a room full of unwrapped gifts donated by generous people from the community. Families registered with Hopelink and who have an appointment are given the opportunity to shop in the gift room.
   Instead of cash, families' purchase with points as each child is awarded five points and each gift is assigned a number of points equal to its monetary value.
   In order to participate, families must register by Dec. 7. "It's all by appointment," said Andrade.
   New and unused items are needed to stock the Gift Room and Hopelink seeks the community's help. The agency asks the community to bring donations for the Gift Room to their Northshore office in Bothell by Dec. 14. The items will be sorted and categorized and then placed in the Gift Room.
   Said Andrade, "We especially need gifts for teenagers. Anything to do with music, sports, watches, wallets, any type of sports equipment and gift certificates for clothes, the theater and sporting events."
   She also offered suggestions for kids. "Sticker cameras are good for a whole range of ages." She said that kids love McDonald's gift certificates, posters, radios and walkmans.
   Seniors like stationery with stamps, gloves, slippers, kitchen towels, good books, a magnifying glass, birdfeeders and seed and gift certificates to a restaurant.
   Andrade also said seniors like to have something to give to others at Christmas.
   For this reason, Hopelink has made a provision for seniors to visit the Gift Room to choose presents for their grandchildren.
   "We really need food donations," said Andrade, citing peanut butter, baby food and cereal at the top of the 'needs list.'
   The holiday food bank is located at 18220-96th Ave. in Bothell and will open Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. for seniors and the disabled and 6 p.m. for people who work or go to school during the day.
   On Dec. 18 the food bank opens for the rest of the population.
   For further information, contact Teresa Andrade at (425) 485-6521.