It is a wonderful time of the year — Christmas.
We all gather with friends and family to share warm homes and hearts, eat homemade feasts and give gifts to show our appreciation of those close to us.
Those who can’t be with those they love — because they are working to ensure essential services for the community or for some other reason — still will mail presents on their lunch hours and pick up the phone to say how glad they are to have people they cherish.
Even those who don’t celebrate Christmas tend to give this time of year.
It’s the giving season.
Some of the most precious gifts are to the stranger, given not because we know the recipient but precisely because we don’t.
These gifts given to no one in particular, just because we share air, epitomize the spirit of Christmas, of bearing good will to all.
Community organizations offer free meals, collect toys for cash-strapped parents to give children so that Santa will indeed come and assemble food baskets in the hope that none will go hungry.
The Peninsula Home Fund is like that.
Donors have no idea who will benefit. It might be someone who has made bad choices but is trying to do better. It might be someone who did everything right but tripped over a vagary of fate that was just one challenge too many.
They give to no one in particular with the wish that all will be well.
So far, generous donors have provided $162,894 for use in 2017. The Peninsula Daily News and Olympic Community Action Programs hope to top the $255,468 contributed to the Peninsula Home Fund in 2015 for use in 2016.
The Peninsula Home Fund provides a hand up, not a handout. It pays for the little things that loom large — eyeglasses or water heaters they can’t afford to replace, an unexpected repair of the car that gets them to work, a utility bill, a rental deposit so they can sleep out of the cold.
None of the disbursements are large. The cap per individual is $350 annually.
Donations collected by the PDN go to Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP), the No. 1 emergency-care agency in Clallam and Jefferson counties, where case workers screen applicants and carefully distribute the funds.
Donations also don’t have to be large. The Peninsula Home Fund has never been a campaign of heavy hitters.
If you can contribute only a few dollars, please don’t hesitate because you think it won’t make a difference.
Every gift makes a difference, regardless of its size. It creates a safety net for your neighbors on the North Olympic Peninsula when there is nowhere else to turn.
So, while you are thinking of last-minute gifts, consider a stocking-stuffer donation to the Peninsula Home Fund, a gift to no one in particular just because you wish them well.
After all, you never know, some day it might be you who needs a little help from a friend you don’t know.
No money is deducted by the Peninsula Daily News for administration fees or any other overhead.
Every penny goes to OlyCAP, which uses it to help the most vulnerable members of our community, from infants to families to seniors.
Please note: Because of heavy community demands, the loss of grants because of the economy and recent cuts in government funding, OlyCAP beginning in 2012 was permitted to use 10 percent — 10 cents of every dollar donated — to pay for the vital programs and services for Home Fund clients. (Previously there were no deductions.)
OlyCAP has kept it in the area of 8 percent, a fraction of the average overhead of other nonprofits.
All contributions are IRS tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law for the year in which the check is written.
Your personal information is kept confidential.
PDN does not rent, sell, give or otherwise share your address or other information with anyone or make any other use of it.
To apply for a Peninsula Home Fund grant, contact one of the three OlyCAP offices:
• OlyCAP’s Port Angeles office is at 228 W. First St., Suite J (Armory Square Mall); 360-452-4726. For Port Angeles and Sequim-area residents.
• Its Port Townsend office is at 823 Commerce Loop; 360-385-2571. For Jefferson County residents.
• The Forks office is at 421 Fifth Ave.; 360-374-6193. For West End residents.
Leave a message in the voice mail box at any of the three numbers, and a Home Fund caseworker will phone you back.
Dale Wilson, OlyCAP’s executive director, oversees disbursements from the Peninsula Home Fund.
To donate, write a check to “Peninsula Home Fund” and attach it to the coupon that appears in today’s PDN.
Mail both items to Peninsula Home Fund, Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.
You can also contribute online using a credit card. Just go to https://secure.peninsuladailynews.com/homefund.
Donations are accepted year-round; a special push is made between Thanksgiving and Dec. 31.
If you have any questions about the fund, phone the PDN at 360-452-2345.
Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at [email protected].