West Seattle holiday help: A gift given 500 times in 1 morning

(Photos by Nick Adams for WSB)
They waited, under the gray Saturday morning sky, down the sidewalk past what last Thanksgiving season was a construction site and this year is a shiny new grocery store. Waiting for them at the head of the line, a free turkey:

And a bag of groceries:

This is the tenth year that Eastridge Church has offered the turkey giveaway, no questions asked. The event in West Seattle is duplicated at their Issaquah campus. And it’s always a bustle of activity:

(Lisa Dela Cruz guides 6-year-old daughter Stephanie in where to place a bag)
Those who come are helped by volunteers of all ages.

(10-year-old volunteer Ryan Shelver)
Even 500 turkeys only go so far. And then, they were gone, as announced by the sign Paul Emmett held:

…gone until next year. Others are helping the hungry in our community too, of course, also with volunteer time and money/food donations; today the White Center Food Bank has a turkey dropoff in Fauntleroy, 11 am.

12 Replies to "West Seattle holiday help: A gift given 500 times in 1 morning"

  • sgs November 18, 2012 (11:32 am)

    Nice job Eastridge, for making the holiday brighter for a whole lot of folks.

  • Diane November 18, 2012 (1:55 pm)

    did all these people in line give their permission to have their photo on front of wsblog, as the ‘poor’ people receiving charity from Eastridge Church? I know it’s fully within the law to photograph anyone out in a public space; but, please be sensitive to the fact that there is huge shame in having no money for food, and having to stand in a food line “under the gray Saturday morning sky, down the sidewalk past what last Thanksgiving season was a construction site and this year is a shiny new grocery store”; my guess, they cannot afford to go into the shiny new grocery store to buy food
    there are rules on here about not hurting others with name-calling; I find it just as hurtful to post photos of the needy/poor on front of this news site for your many thousands of readers to see; you have self-imposed policy of not posting photos of accident victims; how is this different? most of these folks are likely victims of the horrible economy, and probably do not want their bosses, co-workers, family, friends, or anyone to see them standing in a charity line; please consider the dignity of everyone, especially the living, who are trying to survive; I will be stopping by Eastridge to talk about ways to protect the anonymity of receivers of ER generosity in the future
    7 yrs ago, I was working 10 hr days, 30 days straight, commuting over to Bellevue Square; thus, I could not get to the limited Food Bank hours; I had no food; I was working all those hours to pay the rent, and had to wait for a paycheck; one day while driving to work, these wonderful Eastridge folks were out on Fauntleroy with signs for free turkeys; I pulled around the corner and had a wonderful private moment, filled with hugs, conversation, prayer, respect (all far more important than the turkey); I was overwhelmed with gratitude
    “walk in their shoes”; if you had no food, no money, would you want your photo on front of a news story, standing in a food line, for all your neighbors to see?
    in past year’s coverage of ER turkey day, photos of recipients have been from a distance/not blurred; even that would be enough to keep many from going there who do not want to be identified; it’s easy to enlarge photos; this year’s pics are so close up; I can easily id at least 14-15 people
    dignity/respect please, while “giving to the poor/hungry”
    what I love best about the Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes free community thanksgiving dinner; everyone is treated equally, everyone sits together, at a lovely sit-down dinner, where everyone is welcomed at the door and waited on with the same level of respect, kindness, dignity; it’s a wonderful opportunity to meet/share with your neighbors from all walks of life; to really participate in ‘community’
    just a thought, as we’re moving into this season of “giving”; maybe more consideration of how and what we give; not just drive-by drop a turkey for the poor, and run to your own lavish holiday dinner, or the mall; and not just for “do-gooder” publicity; what is the real meaning of giving? wsblog recently ran a story about rampant suicides; suicides increase during the holidays; it’s not just about mental illness; there are tons of folks walking among us who are lonely, sad, hungry for companionship, longing for a hug, starving for genuine caring about who they are as a person; or despairing due to years of trying to get a job; you get the gist, I hope
    these are real people, with real lives/stories/complexities; “they” are not just “the poor”, “the hungry”
    sorry for the long rant; this has really been bugging me for years
    I realize this is one of many stories on a Sunday when most are out and about, so this may never even be read, or may very well piss off the few who do read it; oh well, I feel it needed to be said

    • WSB November 18, 2012 (2:38 pm)

      Diane, you’re kind of preaching to the choir. Every year, we have photographed the line from oh, say, a block away. With occasional photos of the volunteers/church staffers.
      However, I think avoiding showing anyone who is benefiting from this may dehumanize/invisible-ize the participants further. So, when Nick – assigned by us to cover the event – sent me seven photos including two with that angle showing actual people. after thinking about it long and hard, I decided to go out on a limb and use it. I think it’s a reminder that people in need are people just like you, me, our neighbors, co-workers, etc., not some sort of “others.”
      15 or so years ago I was riding to a story assignment for the TV station I worked for at the time with a photographer who went on a rant for some reason about not photographing people at what he indelicately called the holiday “bum feeds.” His main concern wasn’t about people being shown, but about people trying to enjoy a rare decent meal without cameras in their faces. That stuck with me for a long time. And still guides us. However, I think completely avoiding showing anyone somewhat denies their existence. So this year I made a different editorial decision. And we do not ever refer to people as “the poor”/”the hungry”/”the homeless.” The word “people” is always included if there is any kind of a reference (I just checked through site search – I do not ever use “poor”). I make no assumptions about anyone here except that – they chose to stand in line to get a turkey and groceries, an amazing act of generosity that Eastridge has engaged in for 10 years.
      Hunger-fighting is a signature coverage issue for WSB – we spend a lot of time and pixels gathering info and banging the drum to remind people to help and to cover those who are reaching out. We try to do our part to help too, being blessed with a warm house and a full cupboard and the ability to donate money/food … and hope that everyone else who can, will too.

  • avrian November 18, 2012 (2:11 pm)

    Thanks Eastridge for supporting the community!

  • DF November 18, 2012 (5:39 pm)

    Yeah better to come up with a more creative angle like the second photo down or simply blurr out those in line I saw the photo earlier before the comments and thought it was not in good taste

  • Nearby Resident November 18, 2012 (10:50 pm)

    There is no shame in needing help. What is shameful is people making it something someone would feel the need to be ashamed of and hide their face about.

  • BCB November 18, 2012 (10:59 pm)

    “It still haunts me because I can see myself in that line. Not because I ever have been – but because I could be”

    Yep you could be- but you’re not. Instead you’re snapping pictures of people who are and publishing them on a small town blog in Seattle. Where everyone knows everyone.

    I agree with the above comments about these pictures being in poor taste. Own it, remove them and move on. You can argue this in whatever way you want. It’s still offensive.

  • Jackie Winter November 19, 2012 (9:28 am)

    Tracy, You brought it home to us that there are far too many people out there who are struggling to get by on a daily basis. To see the faces of the people inline waiting for food makes you realize that they really are your neighbors or friends who need help. I drive past Nickelsville regularly and a few months ago I brought some warm clothing and coats I no longer wear down to the camp. All I can say is that it is one thing to drive by and another thing to actually stand in the midst of the camp. I was not prepared for the emotions I felt after being there. I cried all the way home .

  • AlkiwendyI November 19, 2012 (2:33 pm)

    It looks like a few of the previous posters and I are in the minority. I have donated to food drives, and the West Seattle Food Bank. I was grocery shopping this morning, and the store was accepting donations to benefit the West Seattle Food Bank. I made a nice donation, in part because I saw the photos. Everyone has good intentions to donate, but sometimes we need to be reminded. Thank you Tracy.

  • Westcoastdeb November 19, 2012 (4:43 pm)

    Seeing not just the humanity but the diversity in the picture reminds me that we are ALL human, we could all be in the position of needing help.

  • k November 19, 2012 (6:59 pm)

    No need to hide. No need for shame. Each of us has needed help of some kind at one time or another. Thank you for posting these TR.

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