It's been a long, rough road for military personnel and their families -- and it doesn't appear that things will be getting any easier very soon. The Family Support Center at Fairchild AFB has several ways that folks can help ease the strain this holiday season for military personnel and the families left behind throughout the Inland Northwest. Cash donations are welcome (checks made out to Friends for Family Support), and you can also donate holiday gifts for needy families -- we hear that there is a particular need for gifts for boys and girls ages 12-16. To donate a gift, call the Help Line at (509) 247-3250. Just hearing the voice of a loved one can be the greatest gift of all. Consider donating a Phone Card at the Veradale Post Office at 15202 E. Sprague Ave. Operation Spokane Heroes is a program of the Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce, where military personnel and their families can receive discounts at a number of area businesses by clicking on www.spokanechamber.org/heroes. If you're a business, you might want to consider participating.
American Red Cross -- Inland NW Chapter
Safety and security are among the best presents anyone can give their loved ones this holiday season. But it's hard to gift-wrap "safety." The Red Cross can help you give that elusive but essential gift while supporting the Red Cross itself, the nation's leader in disaster response and lifesaving training. Got children? Everyone needs a First Aid Kit, but families with young children especially need to stash a well-stocked kit in their home and car. And what good's a kit unless you know how to use it? Whether it's a bruised knee or a bee sting, with the Red Cross Quick Reference Guide, you're covered. For the person who has everything, how about a Three-Day Preparedness Kit designed for natural and man-made emergencies? Or a gift certificate for one of the many Red Cross First Aid classes? Give the gift of safety and help the Red Cross this holiday season. (www.SpokaneRedCross.org)
The Mark Rypien Foundation
Losing someone you love to cancer can either do you in or make you stronger. For Spokane native son and former pro football player Mark Rypien, the death of his son Andrew to cancer in 1998 created a need to help children suffering with the disease and their families. So he established the Mark Rypien Foundation, dedicated to raising funds in support of local activities and research associated with cancer. You can support the Mark Rypien Foundation by donation, by supporting the various fundraising events sponsored by the Foundation, including the annual Zak Miracle Classic Celebrity Golf Tournament or the upcoming first annual Winemaker's Dinner on March 11, or by stopping by any Washington Trust Bank and picking up a red and white mini football featuring Mark's reproduced signature and the inscription MVP XXVI for $5, with proceeds going to the Foundation. Makes a great stocking stuffer! (www.markrypienfoundation.org)
Hospice of Spokane
Providing care and support to terminally ill persons and their families for 25 years, Hospice of Spokane has served many thousands of people -- perhaps including someone you have known and loved. As a nonprofit organization, Hospice of Spokane relies on charitable contributions from individuals and business to offset client care expenses and to fund special projects like Hospice House, a planned acute patient care center that feels and functions like a real home. This $5.4 million facility is still in the planning and fundraising stages, but they hope to break ground in the spring of 2005. Hospice provides services to all who qualify, regardless of their resources or ability to pay, thanks to the generosity of the community through donations, memorial gifts, grants and bequests. (Call 509-456-0438 or visit www.hospiceofspokane.org)
Like humans, animals can live charmed lives or pretty miserable existences. Since 1983, SpokAnimal C.A.R.E. has been promoting kindness and consideration for animals through education, reducing pet overpopulation and establishing programs and sheltering which meet national standards. Pets need advocacy, and there are ways you can make life more comfortable for man's best feline and canine friends. Consider giving the gift of a SpokAnimal membership this holiday. A $25 donation will help provide direct care and subsidize a portion of the adoption fee for one animal. Sponsor a Kennel -- $75 will get you an engraved plaque on a dog or cat kennel for one year. Donations are always welcome. Right now, Polaroid 600 film or money for its purchase is needed for pictures for patients at pet-assisted therapy visits. Cost for a two-pack is about $19. Donations of cleaning supplies, bath towels and blankets are needed. (534-8133 or spokanimal.org)