News

Needy kids will have a Christmas after all

By JODY ALLARD

Staff writer

The Grinch won’t steal Christmas for nearly 3,000 needy Federal Way children after all.

After reading about the plight of the “Giving Tree” project in Wednesday’s Mirror, a local anonymous donor volunteered to cover the estimated $250 cost of the $1 million liability policy required by SeaTac Mall officials to host the Giving Tree.

With the liability policy in place, mall administrators agreed Wednesday to work with a network of community volunteers, groups and churches to bring the Giving Tree to the mall as planned.

“The agreement followed a series of miscommunications that have been resolved,” said Dini Duclos, chief executive officer of the Multi-Service Center. “The mall will accept the liability insurance coverage offered” under the center’s policy, and the center “will agree to add the mall as an ‘additional insured’ to their liability coverage.”

Previously, mall administrators had decided not to allow the Giving Tree to be held at the mall unless a $1 million liability policy was purchased and each of the 250 volunteers working at the tree signed a waiver releasing the mall from liability in case of an accident.

With no clear sponsor of the charitable program, Multi-Service Center administrators said they were reluctant to assume the cost of a liability insurance policy.

The anonymous donor was one of several groups and individuals who called the non-profit Multi-Service Center’s offices volunteering to cover the cost. Some willing donors also called the Mirror.

“Federal Way is a uniquely caring and giving community. We are happy that the issues could be resolved, and that SeaTac Mall can be an important center for the project for this giving season,” said Gary Martindale, general nanager of the mall.

Since 1991, the Giving Tree at SeaTac Mall has acted as the central donation point for holiday giving to children and seniors in the Federal Way area who would have a difficult time putting gifts under their own trees.

Gifts collected at the Giving Tree are delivered to the annual Christmas House project at Steel Lake Presbyterian Church.

Families whose incomes qualify for eligibility at the Multi-Service Center’s Federal Way Food Bank are permitted to shop by appointment during the last 10 days before Christmas each year.

Volunteers numbering close to 500 from churches, schools, civic groups and the public at large manage and staff the Giving Tree and Christmas House.

“The important thing is, Christmas House will have the gifts it needs to provide presents under the tree of over 4,000 children and seniors who are expected to ask for help at Christmas House in December,” said Duclos.

The Giving Tree will accept donations at the mall beginning next Friday.

Staff writer Jody Allard can be reached at 925-5565 and jallard@fedwaymirror.com

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