With the holiday just a few days away, Gerald Smiley chipped in to help provide 300 Thanksgiving turkeys to Federal Way families in need on Monday, Nov. 23.
Gerald Smiley, former Major League Baseball player and founder of the fundraising site Chip-in, raised nearly $7,000 over the course of a month. These funds then provided turkeys for hundreds of local families.
The turkey drive at Federal Way High School on Monday was a first-come, first-serve donation effort bringing long lines of cars and many grateful community members.
Federal Way-based nonprofit World Vision was also a partner of the event, supplying 200 fresh food kits, which include enough food to feed a family of five for a week. The nonprofit also provided 550 resource kits containing face masks, hand sanitizer, pencils, notebooks, crayons, headphones and more.
Smiley helped the Federal Way schools during the summer when he began a fundraising effort to provide FWPS with 5,000 laptops.
When Smiley discovered more than 60% of Federal Way students are on free and reduced lunch, it struck a chord within him.
“That was really dear to my heart because I was one of those children growing up with my mom,” he said. “We had to go to the food banks, we had to figure out where our next meal was coming from next time … I know what that feels like to not have something when you really need it.”
In this time of need heightened by the trials of 2020, Smiley said the upcoming holidays are time for families to be together, create memories, stay safe and ultimately have a warm meal.
“Food is a necessity and it’s a struggle for most,” he said “It’s an honor and privilege for those who don’t have to struggle.”
The Chip-in website also provides full transparency by allowing contributors to see exactly where their money is going. Neither Smiley or the company take any portion of the donations.
Smiley chose Federal Way because of his close personal ties, but also because he’s seen the lack of resources provided to the South King County area.
“We see the amount of people getting pushed out of Seattle into South King County but there’s not a lot of resources that follow the amount of growth in this population that’s being sent out here,” he said.
As the cars moved through the donation line, Reed Slattery, national director of World Vision US programs, said it’s proof the need is real.
World Vision is working across the country to distribute food, resources and supplies, and Slattery said it’s a “great honor and privilege to be here serving the Federal Way community.”
“[The need] is even more severe than other years … to be out here helping families and hopefully making their holiday, it’s very special.”