This is the strangest Christmas many of us have ever experienced.
Cases of a unique coronavirus, which health workers are still learning how to treat, continue to rise — although not as badly on the North Olympic Peninsula as in many other places, thanks to the efforts of its residents.
Businesses are suffering or even closing due to health restrictions.
Many are out of work, their savings evaporating despite the fact that they have worked hard all their lives.
The best of us react to such hardship with the urge to help others in the same circumstances. Many of those live in Clallam and Jefferson counties.
Despite battling their own challenges during this year of COVID-19, Peninsula residents have dug deep to help others.
To name a couple of examples: The Festival of Trees did a record year this year; the Safeway Hunger Bag annual contest prompted an outpouring of donations for the food banks in Sequim and Port Angeles.
The Peninsula Home Fund, which provides money for Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP) case workers to help those in need, is another example.
The campaign ends on Dec. 31. As of Wednesday, it had amassed more than the total donations given in 2019 — $237,407 so far in 2020 compared with $230,673 in 2019.
That’s on top of the $392,723.65 given to the special COVID-19 Relief Fund earlier this year.
Of the amount donated to the Peninsula Home Fund this year, $105,855, was given during the past two weeks as a special Christmas gift to people the donors don’t know.
A list of those donors will be published Sunday.
All contributions are federally tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law for the year in which the check is written.
Those who donate will receive thank-you letters accepted by the IRS.
No money will be deducted by the Peninsula Daily News for administration fees or any other overhead. Every penny will go to OlyCAP, which will use 10 percent to assist with administrative costs.
Beginning in 2012, OlyCAP was permitted to use 10 percent — 10 cents of every dollar donated — to help with administrative costs for the vital programs and services for Home Fund clients.
Previously there were no deductions.
The Home Fund is not a welfare program. Money is used to give families and individuals from Port Townsend to Forks, from Quilcene and Brinnon to Sequim, Joyce and La Push “a hand up, not a handout” to get through an emergency situation.
All instances of help are designed to get an individual or family through a crisis — and back on the path to self-sufficiency.
PDN does not rent, sell, give or otherwise share your address or other information with anyone or make any other use of it.
The combined fund — COVID-19 relief and Peninsula Home Funds — are now in the same pool of money that is available to help people in Clallam and Jefferson counties get over the hump when their needs outpace their finances.
This is the 32nd year that the Peninsula Daily News has collected donations to create an essential bridge for residents of the Peninsula when things just don’t match up.
Since some needs can surpass the $350 cap OlyCAP has had in place, the agency has removed the cap for a one-time grant, although amounts of $500 or more will require the community services director’s approval, according to Audrey Morford, OlyCAP executive coordinator.
Exceptions to the one-time-only guideline can be made if special circumstances arise, she said.
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 voicemail box at any of the three numbers, and a Home Fund caseworker will phone you back as soon as they are able.
Cherish Cronmiller, 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 olycap.org/donations.
From children’s pennies to checks for thousands of dollars, the generosity of Peninsula Daily News readers makes a positive difference.
If you have any questions about the fund, call Publisher Terry R. Ward at 360-417-3500.
Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at [email protected].