WALLY'S WORLD: It’s different for 10 percent

Our economy is so screwed up it would boggle the mind of a Hindu holy man and King County still has an unemployment rate near 10 percent. Despite that, most of us will be lucky enough to scrape together a few nickels and enjoy the holidays in a manner that’s somewhat close to what we’re accustomed to.

But it’s different for the 10 percent. And different for the additional 10 percent who are underemployed.

The other day I was in Seattle celebrating the season and I passed by 10 or 15 homeless people camped in sleeping bags and tents under the viaduct. One of them was a mere child. He shivered in the winter chill, but still had a genuinely happy smile. Their situation bothered me – briefly – while I sat in the warmth of Trattoria Ristorante with a hot buttered rum. I told myself, there’s nothing I can do for them.

But, of course, indirectly, I can do something. For instance, there’s that annual letter I receive from the city’s Gospel Mission; the one I usually throw in the trash, unopened.

So it goes.

Closer to home, there are more than a few Enumclaw families dealing as best they can with a run of bad luck. I don’t believe their situation will improve anytime soon because the national economy won’t improve anytime soon.

There are any number of local charitable institutions that offer help. In particular, our local car dealerships are quite active in this respect. You’ve probably noticed their SUVs and pickups parked outside grocery stores, where shoppers are encouraged to leave donations that are given to the Enumclaw Food Bank. Some of the dealers also collect playthings for the Toys For Tots program and others purchase coats for the clothing bank in the J. J. Smith building.

Northwest Harvest supplies staples for another food bank that’s associated with Outreach Ministries on Cole Street. Manager Denise Trivelas said there’s always a large demand at Thanksgiving and this year she served special food baskets to more than 120 local families. As we near Christmas, she feels families are more concerned with gifts for children instead of special meals.

Local churches have Christmas trees decorated with tags that specify things that would be appreciated by particular families and individuals. Church members simply pick a tag and make a donation of the desired gift.

Denise said they identify families who have recently received financial aid to cover expenses like rent and utility bills. They also get family information from the Enumclaw Youth Center.

Before I fell asleep the other night, I remembered that little fellow living under the viaduct. I hope Santa finds him. But that’s not very likely.

So it goes.

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