Peninsula Home Fund: The value of a gift from a stranger

Terry Ward

Terry Ward

ON THANKSGIVING DAY was launched the 31st annual Peninsula Home Fund campaign, just in time for the holidays.

As a publisher of local community newspapers, I feel it is important that we use our media reach and leadership role to help those who may need a little extra help from time to time.

In fact, it is something I feel extremely strongly about because of personal experience.

When my mother was pregnant with me, my dad died in a car accident.

The accident happened exactly, to the day, six months before I was born.

I am the youngest of four. I have an older brother and two older sisters.

Through various other events, my mother and we four children ended up as migrant workers, traveling from place to place, picking fruit and vegetables to make a living. (I attended three dozen different schools from kindergarten through 12th grade.)

There were many times when I was growing up that we were homeless.

When I was 4 years old, we were living in a tent in a state park in California.

Christmas approached, and my mother sat all of us kids down and told us we were not going to have a Christmas that year.

She explained that because we didn’t have a house, it would be difficult for Santa to find us. It was her way of softening the blow of another difficult Christmas.

It wasn’t unusual for us to go several days without a meal. We couldn’t afford housing or food, much less presents at Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, we all went to bed in the tent just like any other night. As the youngest, I was the first to wake up the next morning.

I opened the flap of the tent, and as I crawled out, I was astonished to see there were presents all wrapped up and sitting in front of our tent.

You can imagine how excited that made me as a 4-year-old.

I quickly woke up my mom, my brother and my two sisters to show them what I had found.

We all stood there in amazement while my mom read the card with tears rolling down her face. I remember that day as if it were yesterday.

The park rangers and their families had pooled together and made sure my family had a Christmas that year.

Still today, after all of these years, that Christmas is my most memorable.

It has affected my life for the better.

Although the park rangers and their families probably don’t recall what they did, this simple act of kindness from strangers made a difference in who I am today.

It’s why I volunteer. It’s why I try to help as many people as I can. It’s why I am so passionate about seeing families in need get the help they need. It’s why I am confident that we all make a difference in the lives we touch.

So this holiday season, whether you donate to the Peninsula Home Fund or in a different way, I hope everyone in our community takes a moment to make a difference in someone else’s life.


Terry R. Ward is the publisher of the Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum.

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