Wanted: donations at Bothell’s Hopelink

Bothell Hopelink’s Jim Forsman hands an empty milk carton over to volunteer Ann Barnhart at Hopelink’s food bank Nov. 25. - Fumiko Yarita / Reporter
Bothell Hopelink’s Jim Forsman hands an empty milk carton over to volunteer Ann Barnhart at Hopelink’s food bank Nov. 25.
— image credit: Fumiko Yarita / Reporter

Bare shelves need food, clothing

Just in time for the holidays, officials for Hopelink, one of the area’s major sources of aid for financially struggling families, say the number of persons seeking their help has spiked, while at the same time donations have dropped.

According to information provided by Hopelink, the number of families served at the agency’s six food banks has increased approximately 26 percent over the past year, while requests for emergency food bags have jumped 71 percent during the same time period. Calls requesting information on housing have climbed from about 30 per day to more than 50 per day.

Locally, at Hopelink’s Northshore facility in Bothell, Hopelink spokesperson Denise Stephens said, comparing numbers from September 2007 to those from September 2008, the number of families seeking help with food went up some 27 percent. For October 2008, the numbers increased some 35 percent over the same month last year.

“That’s scary,” Stephens said. “When is this going to stop?”

According to Stephens, officials at the Northshore Hopelink say they haven’t seen the shelves there as bare as they are now in 25 years. At the same time, Stephens said she has received reports of regular donors apologizing for not being able to supply as much food and goods as they might have in the past.

“Frankly,” Stephens added, “even if donations were normal, we wouldn’t be meeting the need.”

Hopelink’s wish list for donated food includes the same staples they say are needed year-round: canned tuna fish, rice, pasta, canned fruit, peanut butter, cereal, baby food, tomato products, nonperishable juice and grocery gift cards. Hopelink also will accept donations of holiday foods.

Hopelink officials say donations of gifts that would be particularly appreciated include toys, books, games and other gifts for children of all ages; gift cards for stores such as Target, Fred Meyer, and Barnes & Noble; and items specifically for teens, such as MP3 players, jewelry and sports equipment.

New clothing for children ages newborn to 18 is also welcome, particularly for high-school-age children. Hopelink officials said supplying gift cards to stores such as Old Navy, Target, Fred Meyer or the Gap are great ways to donate clothing for older children.

Hopelink asks that gift donations be new and unwrapped. During the holidays, low-income parents and grandparents are able to “shop” for gifts at any of Hopelink’s six centers, including the Northshore facility.

Donations of food or holiday gifts can be delivered to any of Hopelink’s locations, including the Northshore facility, 18220 96th Ave. N.E., Bothell. The Northshore Hopelink will accept donations of gifts through Dec. 20. Drop-off times are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on two Saturdays, Dec. 13 and Dec. 20.

Cash donations can also be made through the Hopelink Web site, Visit the Web address or call (425) 869-6000 for more information.

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