December 5

Giving Season

Spread the joy and make a difference in the lives of your South Lake Union neighbors by getting involved with these community organizations.

’Tis the season for giving gifts to family and friends, but it’s also a fantastic time to help others in the community who aren’t as fortunate. The best way to help almost any nonprofit organization is with a financial donation that will enable it to address its most urgent needs. But in addition to writing that check, you can also make a difference by donating much-needed items and your own time. Here’s how to help some local organizations with their missions.


What They Do: Nearly 1,000 young people in Seattle are homeless, according to YouthCare, which aims to help get youth off the streets and prepare them for a brighter future. The organization offers a wide range of services for ages 12-24, but at their core are three principles: Engage through outreach and providing basic needs and emergency shelter; Stabilize with transitional housing and independent living programs; and Prepare for the future with education and employment training programs.

How You Can Help: On-site volunteer opportunities focus on creating a connection between YouthCare participants and the community. You might tutor a young person studying for the GED exam, cook dinner at housing programs, or work together on planting a garden, for example. Don’t have time to volunteer? YouthCare also maintains an Amazon wish list of school supplies and basic items you can pop in your cart to be delivered directly to the organization.

Find Out More:


What They Do: Finding stable employment can be a challenge for those experiencing homelessness, recovering from addiction or who have a criminal record. FareStart helps by offering free job training programs and apprenticeships that prepare participants to work in restaurant kitchens, food service roles, and as baristas. In addition to operating a catering services and six eateries where you can see (and taste!) the participants’ successes, FareStart also provides nutritious meals to low-income people at shelters, hospice centers, and other area venues.

How You Can Help: Right now, one of the best ways to support the organization is by treating yourself and your friends to a meal at the FareStart Restaurant, Maslow’s by FareStart. That’s because Amazon has pledged to match all dining revenue (and financial donations) up to $1M through the end of December, so now’s the time to book a table or buy a gift card. You can also sign up for year-round individual and group volunteer shifts, which could include kitchen prep work, processing food donations, and delivering shelter meals.

Find Out More:


What They Do: Don’t let the name fool you—Queen Anne Helpline also serves Magnolia and South Lake Union in its mission is “to prevent homelessness and stabilize the lives of neighbors in need through financial and supportive services.” Financial support includes assistance with rent, utility payments, and move-in costs for those facing hardships within 98109, 98119, and 98199 zip codes. Other support includes a clothing and linens bank, emergency food bags, and access to personal hygiene products, Metro bus tickets, and Washington state ID vouchers.

How You Can Help: This time of year, donations of winter coats, gloves, and blankets are especially appreciated, along with non-perishable food and personal hygiene items. The Helpline’s Amazon wish list makes it easy to donate. Donating your time is another great way to do your part; volunteers may help greet clients, stock the clothing bank or food pantry, assist with data entry and communications projects, and much more.

Find Out More:



What They Do: Food stamps can’t be used to purchase diapers, meaning parents on limited incomes may have to look elsewhere for assistance with covering that cost, which can range from $70-$100 a month for each child. WestSide Baby helps provide these basics for children in need, so parents don’t have to choose between food and keeping their child clean and dry.

How You Can Help: Hosting a supplies drive to collect diapers and other baby basics can be a fun and easy way to get involved. Sign up online, and a coordinator will get in touch to share a list of most-needed items and tips on how to spread the word to your friends, neighbors, or coworkers. Volunteers (individuals and groups) are also needed on-site for a number of tasks including sorting donations, checking baby and equipment for safety and functionality, and assisting with administrative projects.

Find Out More:


What They Do: Helping homeless families stay together and into stable housing are key goals of Mary’s Place. To that end, the organization offers a wide range of services, including shelters and family centers around Seattle, assistance getting into permanent housing, kids clubs to keep little ones busy and safe while their parents are at work, internship and empowerment programs, and a women’s day center in South Lake Union that offers hot meals, showers, and help getting into employment and housing.

How You Can Help: There are plenty of ways you can make a difference, and most of them are especially fun if you volunteer with a group. You and your friends or coworkers might spend time playing or helping kids with their homework at one of the family centers; work with kitchen staff to prepare meals for Mary’s Place shelters; or get together to create kits stuffed with newborn essentials, personal hygiene products, or household items for newly homed families.

Find Out More:

Story by Lara Hale and Photographs by WestSide Baby, YouthCare, and Brooke Fitts.

At The Center

SLU is the geographical center of Seattle