With Christmas arriving in only a few weeks, the Salvation Army Puyallup Valley Corps is doing its annual special emphasis on helping local families who struggle to make ends meet and put gifts under their tree.
From now through Dec. 15, the PVC will host its annual Giving Tree at South Hill Mall near the Target store where people can pick up a tag that lists a family’s or senior’s Christmas gift wishes. People purchase the gifts on the list and return them to the Giving Tree.
“I anticipate about 1,000 gifts going out to seniors and children from the Giving Tree,” said Maretha Baltimore, social services director at the PVC. “It is 300 to 400 more than last year. The need is greater. The economy is not as wonderful for people as we’re led to believe. People are still out of jobs. People are looking for different avenues to find resources.”
Maj. Ronalee Fenrich, a corps officer at the PVC who leads the organization with her husband, Maj. Ron Fenrich, said a contributing factor to a family’s inability to purchase gifts this time of year is the unavoidable rise in utility bills and the necessity to put food on the table.
“When the utility bills go up, and food is more expensive in the winter months, they don’t have the money for gifts,” Ronalee said. “With our year-round food bank, we can help them stretch their dollar. These are people who are homeless, but income is so tight. It’s nice to help them out the best we can.”
With our year-round food bank, we can help them stretch their dollar. These are people who are homeless, but income is so tight. It’s nice to help them out the best we can.
Maj. Ronalee Fenrich, Salvation Army Puyallup Valley Corps
The PVC’s utility assistance program starts in January each year when the organization receives a varying allotted dollar amount from Puget Sound Energy and Elmhurst Mutual Power’s Shine a Light program. Funds are distributed to families in need during the winter months. On average, 75 families in East Pierce County are served annually.
The PVC’s food bank serves families year-round. All donations of food and non-food items are welcome. Donations of pet food are also welcome to ensure seniors on a fixed income don’t have to choose whether to have a hot meal or say goodbye to their favorite furry friend.
“Monetary donations are a big help, especially when it comes to the food bank,” Ron said. “When you go to the store, a can of corn store costs a dollar, but you give me that same dollar and I can buy three cans of corn. We can buy in bulk and get it cheaper.”
Monetary donations are also welcome at the Giving Tree. A red kettle will be on site for people to deposit a cash donation. And individuals can also adopt a family and purchase gifts off the list for that family. This year 15 families have been adopted. The PVC asks for donations of books, DVDs and music, especially for teens and pre-teens that often are forgotten. Donors are asked to spend $35 or less or individual items.
Finally, businesses are encouraged to adopt a Giving Tree to put in their lobby. The PVC provides wish list tags to the business to put on the tree. An additional business participating so far is Denny’s restaurant on South Hill near the Holiday Inn.
If a business would like to adopt a tree, they are asked to call Baltimore at 253-841-1491 ext. 205 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.