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Puyallup Tribe brings Christmas early to area Non-Profits

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Spirit of 12 partners, Toy Rescue Mission, Emergency Food Network, Northwest Harvest and Tahoma Indian Center all gifted with Major donations

In this season of giving, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians is keeping the blessed
tradition by donating to deserving local charities. The Tribe has gifted f ive Tacoma/Pierce County non-prof its with generous donations that will go a long way in helping these organizations continue their vital efforts in the communities they serve.
“It is truly humbling to know that there are so many people in need,” said Puyallup Chairman Bill Sterud. “I feel immense joy in us having the ability to take care of those who need it most. We, as tribal members, know what it is like to grow up with nothing. It gives us all great joy to make someone’s Christmas happier than it would have been otherwise.”
“The donations we made ensure the vitality of the people in our community,” said Puyallup Vice Chair Roleen Hargrove. “It is critical to ensure families and community members, suffering from long or short term setbacks, that they have resources available to get them moving forward in life. The Puyallup Tribe of Indians is not unfamiliar with diff icult times. We relied on the support of our community organizations not long ago and it is of great honor that we, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, are able to pay it forward.”
Founded in 2004, the Spirit of 12 Partners program embodies the Seattle Seahawks’ commitment to the Pacific Northwest community and its fans. The Puyallup Tribe gifted the Spirit of 12 Partners with $550,000 to help it continue its mission.
At every home game, Pacific Northwest youth service organizations partner with the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and Seahawks fans to raise funds for kids’ programs. These nonprofit partners include YMCA of Greater Seattle, Treehouse (for foster children), Rainier Scholars, Boys & Girls Club of Washington State Association and Camp Fire Snohomish County.
As Spirit of 12 Partners, members of community-based nonprof its distribute the Seahawks Gameday Magazine, keeping 100 percent of the proceeds that are then matched by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. In 2014, more than $527,000 was raised in the Spirit of 12 Partners program and more than $3 million in total funds since 2004. Grant programs advance the areas of arts and culture, poverty alleviation, economic relief, education and scientific research.
“In the old days, in our aboriginal language, we were known as the S’Puyalupubsh, meaning ‘generous and welcoming behavior to all people (friends and strangers) who enter our lands,’ said Roleen Hargrove. “It is with great pride, and boundless excitement, that the Puyallup Tribe of Indians will be supporting the Seattle Seahawks Spirit of 12 program. We hope that our donation of $550,000 is able to advance community programming, and create innovative opportunities for children and families throughout our state. The Spirit of 12 program not only generates diverse outlets for personal success, but continues to advance the human spirit. The Puyallup Tribe of Indians humbly thanks the Seattle Seahawks for their steadfast efforts, friendship, and dedication to our community. GO HAWKS!!"
Tacoma’s Toy Rescue Mission received $100,000 for its work to refurbish and recycle gently used toys for disadvantaged children and seniors in care facilities while providing meaningful volunteer opportunities for the young at heart. Not only does the Mission make birthdays, Easter and Christmas bright for children and seniors, its way of recycling toys is environmentally friendly too.
At Christmastime, the mission typically serves more than 125 families a day starting around Dec. 2. In total for last year, the mission served 11,152 children and seniors, 7,000 of those in December alone. The mission provides for children’s birthdays throughout the year and is at its busiest at Christmas, Easter and back-to-school time. Serving the South Sound for more than 20 years, the Toy Rescue Mission is nearly 100 percent volunteer run and receives no state or federal funding, nor is it aff iliated with DSHS or any other state agency.
Toy Rescue Mission Director and Board President Martha
Davis said the Tribe’s donation is the largest one the Mission has ever received, and she was floored to receive it.
“I was in a state of shock to be honored in such a way that I can continue serving the children of Tacoma,” she said. That the donation came at Christmastime, the Mission’s busiest time of year, is icing on the cake. “We have already severed nearly 900 families in eight days and I still have until Dec. 23. I wonder each day how many families will be coming in and if I have enough stuff and now I don’t have to say no.”
Currently, Toy Rescue Mission staff is searching for a new location, as the organization is facing relocation from its current spot next to Tacoma Boys at 607 S. Winnifred St. The mission needs approximately 6,000 sq. ft. and accessible parking for all the families that visit.
Davis said the donation would help in the search for a new location. “We have been looking but the biggest problem is it has to be on a main bus line so that clients can find us easily, and for those who don’t have a car to get here.” Those who may have any leads are asked to contact Martha Davis at (253) 460-6711.
A longtime supporter of Northwest Harvest, the Tribe gave $50,000 to this organization, in keeping with generous donations of years past.
Northwest Harvest is Washington's own statewide hunger relief agency. Its mission is to provide nutritious food to hungry people statewide in a manner that respects their dignity, while f ighting to eliminate hunger. Northwest Harvest’s vision is that ample nutritious food is available to everyone in Washington State.
“We are so grateful for our ongoing partnership with the Puyallup Tribe in feeding hungry people statewide,” said Northwest Harvest CEO Shelley Rotondo. “Their most recent gift of $50,000 at Home Team Harvest puts the Tribe’s total contributions to Northwest Harvest at more than $1 million which is over four million meals since 2005. With their ongoing commitment to strengthening the community, the Tribe’s most recent generous grant shows respect and concern for all of our neighbors in need. This is especially helpful since the demand for nutritious food continues to grow at a time when donations are down, yet one in f ive children in Washington are at risk of going hungry. The Tribe’s gift truly makes it possible for us to work toward our goal of ending hunger.”
Tahoma Indian Center received $100,000 to enhance its services to assist Native individuals overcome their barriers to permanent housing, employment and self-suff iciency in a loving, protective environment.
A program of Catholic Community Services, the Center serves 1,100 Native people a year free of charge, including serving 50-55 midday meals f ive days a week. It provides individualized and tailored case management to assist in accessing support resources, offers free laundry facilities and acts as a mailing address for more than 250 people. Native cultural and spiritual ceremonies and social activities are held there as well. Through the Bridges Village housing program, 10 permanent and supportive housing units are available for Native families who have experienced homelessness.
Among the many ways in which the donation will be used, the Center will expand its housing search and rent assistance programs, increase staff hours to provide more direct assistance and build a wheelchair ramp and reinforce stair railings (individuals in wheelchairs are currently carried up the stairs).
“It’s an awesome, humbling gift. It will really make a huge impact. This donation will allow us to save Native lives,” said Program Manager Steve Gallion. “That’s the most important thing we can do.”
Gallion said the Center went through a hard year in 2015, as 10 of its clients passed away due to addictions, homelessness and basically not being able to get the help they need, including a stable living situation. “It’s been a serious challenge.”
He noted that the Center will open a women’s shelter on Jan. 1 and many additional plans are being made as well to help Native people address the longterm, fundamental issues that keep them from being the best people they want to be.
Emergency Food Network (EFN) received $100,000 to assist in its efforts to provide Pierce County with a consistent, diverse and nutritious food supply so that no person goes hungry.
EFN partners with 73 food banks, hot meal sites and shelters, providing them with food at no cost to them or their clients, which are the homeless, unemployed, working poor, elderly, children and military. EFN maintains an eight-acre farm in the Orting Valley and has just started farming it year round.
In 2014, EFN distributed 15.3 million pounds of food and accommodated 1,421,417 client visits, with 6,626 of these visits made by Native Americans. EFN was able to distribute 17 percent more food in 2014 than in 2011, keeping pace with the 11 percent increase in need in the community that same time period.
“It was like Chanukkah and Christmas all rolled into one,” said EFN Executive Director Helen McGovern-Pilant, noting that this donation is the highest EFN has ever received since it began in 1982. “It was totally unexpected, an amazing generous and another way the Tribe reaches out to take care of their neighbors in need.”
McGovern-Pilant said the biggest need EFN is seeing this year is among working families with children and senior citizens. For working families especially, it often comes down to them having to decide between getting the car fixed so they can get to work or buying food to feed their children.
“These aren’t folks coming in every week. They’re trying hard and may have access to food stamps but then it’s hard to make it through the month,” she said.

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