POULSBO — Rents were paid. Utilities were kept on. Families had food to eat. People who needed it got transportation to and from medical appointments and work.
All told, the Poulsbo Lions Club/Raab Foundation Bellringer Fund provided 102 Christmas dinners for local families and helped more than 300 people in financial crisis in 2011-12. Thanks to the $33,061 contributed by North Kitsap residents during the campaign last winter.
Organizers have kicked off the winter 2012 campaign, with the goal of raising at least $30,000 to meet local needs. Once again, the Harry James Trust is the first to donate, contributing $500.
The fund is a proud local tradition that dates back to 1946, when Frank and Mabel Raab founded the fund as a way for local residents to meet the needs of their neighbors. The fund is part of the Raab Foundation, but is administered by the Poulsbo Lions Club.
Bellringer Fund chairman John Macdonald, a Poulsbo CPA, said there is no overhead. Every penny goes to local needs. Contributions are tax-deductible.
The Bellringer Fund will use about $5,000 to provide those Christmas food baskets. The remainder of the funds will be distributed to North Kitsap Fishline, Kingston ShareNet and St. Vincent de Paul Society. Those organizations will use the money to help people in financial crisis: Help paying rent or mortgage so they can stay in their homes; help paying utility bills so they can keep the lights and heat on; help getting to where they need to go if the family car is in need of repair.
Macdonald said Bellringer formerly distributed the money to individuals and families but turned that task over to the nonprofits, because they have a structure in place to perform that task daily.
“We found there was a lot of duplication in what we were doing, and that they were more efficient in distributing funds than we were,” Macdonald said. “We felt the money would be better used by letting those three entities administer the funds.”
Rae Rodriguez, client services manager at Fishline, said letting the non-profits administer the funds speeds response during emergencies. “And we’re able to stretch what we’re doing for people in crisis,” she said.
Those crises have not abated since the U.S. entered its period of economic recovery. “It used to be that folks would come in because of an issue, now it’s multiple issues,” she said. “We’ve been in crisis mode for a couple of years. We’ve tripled our client load in that time.”
Donations can be delivered to the North Kitsap Herald, 19351 8th Ave. NE, Suite 205, Poulsbo. Or mail to P.O. Box 244, Poulsbo, WA. 98370. Names of donors will be published each Friday in the Herald.
— Harry James Trust, $500.