Every year the Washington State Fair draws a large crowd of visitors — and their vehicles.
Paying for a parking spot at the Fair can cost up to $25, but for one lot in particular, part of this money goes right back into helping the community.
Life Care Center of Puyallup and the Puyallup Kiwanis partnered this year to use Life Care Center’s extra space for Fair parking.
“Creating this partnership puts a whole bunch of money into the community that wasn’t there before,” said Cyndi Anderson, director of business development and community relations at Life Care Center. “That’s what we’re most proud of.”
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The lot, located on the northwest corner of 7th Street and 10th Avenue, consists of more than 150 parking spots on grass, which visitors can pay $5 to $25 for, depending on the day.
The proceeds collected throughout the Fair’s run will be split down the middle — half to Life Care Center and half to the Kiwanis.
We’re doing this for the community and for the children of the community. It’s a great partnership.
Rudy Fyles, parking lot fundraiser project lead
The parking lot is the biggest fundraiser for Kiwanis throughout the year. Its share of the proceeds will be put into the club’s service fund, which funds Puyallup services and activities, including more than $18,000 annually for school scholarships. Local food banks, kids programs and high school key clubs also benefit from the fund.
“We feel really good about it because not only are we doing well as a club, but it goes back into the community,” said Rudy Fyles, project lead for the parking lot fundraiser.
Life Care Center, a rehabilitation clinic that services both inpatients and outpatients, uses its share of funds to provide new equipment and activities for its staff and patients that it might normally be unable to afford.
The partnership between Kiwanis and Life Care Center began at the start of the 2015 Fair, after center staff realized the task of parking the cars of fair-goers was too taxing.
“We looked for a community partner who was willing and who had enough volunteers,” Anderson said. “It was too cumbersome for our staff.”
Anderson, who also serves as public relations chair for South Hill Rotary, got the idea to enlist the help of Kiwanis.
Creating this partnership puts a whole bunch of money into the community that wasn’t there before. That’s what we’re most proud of.
Cyndi Anderson, director of business development and community relations at Life Care Center
South Hill Rotary also raises money every year from Fair parking, and has its own lot located near the Fair’s Gold Gate on the corner of S. Meridian and 9th Ave. SW.
“South Hill Rotary shared a lot of documentation (with Kiwanis),” Anderson said, including how to get a permit, insurance, and how to schedule volunteers. Last year, the Puyallup Kiwanis raised $36,500 from the lot and had more than 684 hours of service.
This year, Fyles hopes to raise $40,000 with around 900 service hours.
“We got an extra weekend, and the weekends are the busiest,” Fyles said.
Kiwanis members all pitched in to help by signing up for times throughout the day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., when they were available to work as a either a cashier, flagger or parker.
“(We) can pick from different times. That’s one of the reasons (we’re) so successful,” said Fyles, who signed up last to pick up any empty spots his club members weren’t able to cover.
There can be a lot of down time, said Fyles, but it gives the club members a chance to catch up.
“What’s the most fun is the ability to hang out with club members,” he said. “You chat, you get caught up. It helps with the bonding of the club.”
Members also have the chance to start conversations with Fair visitors and learn how far they’ve traveled to get to Puyallup.
“There’s humor involved in this,” said Fyles, adding that some visitors drive for hours and are very appreciative of the parking lot’s port-a-potty and garbage cans.
When members explain to visitors where their money is going, some tend to give more, said one Kiwanis member at the club’s weekly meeting on Sept. 1.
“We’re doing this for the community and for the children of the community,” Fyles said. “It’s a great partnership.”