‘Tis the season to think of others

I love the holiday season because it brings out the best in people – including our County family.  I was proud to learn that more than 45 teams of County employees from 18 different departments are participating in Adopt-A-Family this year.  This amazing program has been a Country tradition since 1994!

Nearly 25 years ago, the Community Actions Programs Division of the Human Services Department wanted to do something to get into the holiday spirit. They realized that many of the children they served in the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) might not receive gifts from Santa and decided to adopt families in need. As the years went by, employees nominated more families and the tradition changed from supporting only ECEAP children to adopting seniors receiving support through energy assistance, home repair and other County programs.

In 2012, the success of Adopt-A-Family gained attention from other departments and it was only a matter of time before the entire County stepped up! This year we adopted 48 families, including 87 children and 17 seniors! And there was one special addition to family wish lists this year – gifts for pets!

So, how does Human Services pull off such a complex project?

Well, it starts with the project staff in the Community Action Programs Division: Lauren Lee, Margi Rudy, and Santa’s List Maker, Lynda Buchanan. Each fall, they meet with Dawn Brekke, Shelley Minniti, and Lesa Mancini-Williamson (also known as Elf 1, 2, and 3, respectively) to coordinate family nominations and employee sponsors. In December, employees are matched with families and then the holiday shopping begins!

As gifts are dropped off, the large conference room at the Soundview building fills up with items that kids will love –  bicycles, Tonka trucks, Barbie houses and more. There are practical items for the home, too, such as toilet paper, rugs, and pet food. Many sponsors donate gift cards that can be used by the family to purchase gifts, prescriptions, gasoline, or groceries.

Thank you to Lynda and her elves in the Human Services department for coordinating this Countywide effort to bless some in our community whose holiday season otherwise might not be bright.


Even before I attended the Naval Academy, I marked my calendar every year so I would not miss the Army-Navy game.  While not always the highest quality football, the intensity of the rivalry and the fact that everyone would graduate and go on to serve our country captivated me.   Now as a graduate of Navy, all those feelings are magnified tenfold!  So, I humbly congratulate Army on their win last Saturday and for an impressive season.  While Navy may have lost the last three games, I recall that Navy still leads this historic series 60-52-7!

My disappointment in the outcome of the game was offset when I learned that thanks to all of you, Navy was victorious in our annual County food drive! Despite a last-ditch effort at “shock and awe,” by Brigadier General (and Chair) Doug Richardson (Ret.), Navy supporters donated 472 pounds of food versus 383 pounds donated by Army fans.  Woo hoo!

But, seriously, your generosity more than doubled the amount of food we provided last year to the Emergency Food Network for the holidays.  Go Navy!  Go Army!  Beat Hunger!

Projects like Adopt-A-Family and the Army-Navy Food Drive make me extremely thankful to work with all of you in our County family. Your generosity and kindness for those less fortunate in Pierce County challenges and encourages me.


Lastly, if you haven’t already had a chance to see our beautifully decorated tree on the first floor of the CCB (and the wreaths on the 2nd floor), I strongly encourage you to do so. Photos just don’t do them justice but here are a couple.

My thanks to Alice McDaniel, Amanda Hansen, Diane Ladenburg, Briana Fagan, Erin Babbo, Kyle Schmidtke and James Lehmann for their creativity and skill in bringing their wintery County-themed vision to life.  Bravo!

Have a great weekend, and thanks for reading.