A local VFW post hopes to brighten the holidays for struggling families.
On Nov. 14, Dean Quigley and Bob Harper, on behalf of the Mercer Island VFW Post 5670, donated $1,000 in QFC food gift cards to Mercer Island Youth and Family Services. They presented the donation to MIYFS director Cynthia Goodwin and foundation president Jody Kris, in a blue gift bag.
The donation has become a recurring contribution Harper said, and added that VFW members have used the organization as they were transitioning into civilian life from active duty.
“When people came off of active duty and are trying to make the transition into civilian life, they have to get a job and do those sorts of things,” he said. “It’s a tough position for a while.”
And members of the VFW, all required to have been deployed to a war zone to join, recognized the importance of the holiday meal, having spent time away from home during Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah.
“We know how important it is to have a nice…holiday meal,” he said. “I think there’s a sensitivity to that.”
Derek Franklin, senior programs manager and clinical supervisor at MIYFS, said sometimes families on the Island become “upside down” financially and seniors on fixed incomes get hit by the increasing costs of living. On Mercer Island, those living with lower incomes can struggle to ask for help due to social norms.
During the holidays, MIYFS works to get gifts and food out to families. Franklin said currently there are about 80 to 90 Mercer Island families enrolled in the holiday program.
For the families, the food gift cards are especially handy due to room constraints where donated food is stored. Franklin said it’s hard to store a whole turkey. The gift cards also help families that may have dietary restrictions.
“Mercer Island stands out in terms of affluence and the idea of food insecurity is not always comfortable or common here,” Franklin said. He said he hoped to destigmatize the notion that many of our neighbors from time to time need food support.