Help Us Make Someone’s Holiday Special

By Gordon McHenry, Jr., on December 17, 2021 | In Breaking the Cycle of Poverty, Fighting Homelessness, Helping Students Graduate, News, Racial Equity

Holidays are for memories. And December holidays, no matter the tradition, culture or history, center us on hope, compassion, love and family. It is no wonder that these are times when some of the most vivid memories are made; we pause from our daily roles (or is that rigamaroles?) to enjoy the lights, color and spirit of Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and other holidays.

We abound in gatherings of family and friends. We decorate our homes with opulent colors. We greet strangers with soft smiles and warm words. We foster a sense of goodwill more now than any other time of year, and the joy we share will put smiles on our faces when we look back years from now.

Or at least that’s how it should be.

As someone who hails from in the Baptist tradition, I and my family celebrate Christmas, a holiday that centers on the birth of Christ, family and giving. In fact, I still remember two of my most memorable gifts growing up: One was a set of books (at a time when most of the books I read came from the library), and another was a bicycle. And I still recall those family traditions, which included calling my grandparents in Spokane on the phone (no WhatsApp, Zoom or Teams in those days) to wish them a Merry Christmas.

Yet, as I reflect on those times, I’m reminded that some people in our own backyard have not have opportunities to store up such memories. For them, the holidays can be as cold and unbearable as a biting winter storm.

These are the people experiencing homelessness – the ones we often drive past on our way to the shopping malls to catch the holiday sales. They are the families who will spend all of December wondering if they will be forced out of their homes in January when the eviction moratorium ends in Seattle. They are college students struggling to complete the academic year because of lack of resources. They are children who don’t have enough to eat, with parents who, try as they might, can’t provide enough.

They, too, deserve a holiday of good memories. That is why United Way of King County works to turn your donations into gifts that help our neighbors – now and well long after the holidays end.

Snowy image of Seattle

 Our Streets to Home program helps reduce homelessness in King County by quickly connecting people with housing and income. Our Home Base program provides rental assistance, so people don’t fall behind and end up with a mountain of debt to repay after the COVID-19 crisis passes. Our Fuel Your Future program partners with DoorDash, Safeway and local food banks to provide hunger relief to tens of thousands of our neighbors every week. Our Benefits Hub helps college students pay for such necessities as groceries, utility bills, food, transportation and counseling.

It is our hour hope that, through our efforts and your giving, someone’s holiday season will be a bit brighter. Some family will set a table filled with goodies. Some student will walk across a graduation stage with his head held high. Some parent will be able to put a little money aside to get a gift that will make her child’s eyes light up. Someone who just needs some assistance will get it – and never forget it.

We are at our best when we allow the holiday season to ignite in us a renewed desire to make someone else’s burdens easier to carry. We at United Way are dedicated to such efforts in December and year-round. And that is at the core of our aim to build a racially just community where people have homes, students graduate and families are financially stable.

Help us to make someone’s holiday special— and memorable.


All comments are approved before they are posted to the site.