By PUYALLUP TRIBAL NEWS STAFF
Puyallup, WASH. – The sun came out Saturday, December 15, morning in time to stack the tables with donations for neighbors and relatives who are experiencing homelessness. The parking lot of the Puyallup Tribal Administration Building was arranged with rows of long tables, fire pits and chairs, and a tent with homemade soup and warm coffee. A line of relatives waited patiently for their opportunity to fill their bags with necessities and other generous offerings. The mood was joyous as kids awaited their turn at the toy truck.
The Helping the Homeless event is in its ninth year of giving, and each year there is more to give. Organized and led by Puyallup Tribe Council member Sylvia Miller, the day brings together a crew of Tribal members, elders, youth, friends and volunteers by the dozens; people who are ready to lend their support for a day of giving and receiving. In moments of gratitude, we are all the same, finding humility in generosity no matter which side of the giving or receiving we are on.
As a generous and welcoming people, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians shares a culture of reciprocity and giving. Helping the Homeless for the Tribe means remembering that although the holidays may bring joy to many, the season can also surface difficult times and day-to-day struggles for many. Miller’s team of dedicated volunteers works tirelessly to collect and organize donations from the local community to help shoulder the burden of those in need or experiencing homelessness.
“As you can see, there’s a lot of people in need. And you know what? It’s good to give. And it’s good to take, if you need. We want you to come. We’ve all been there – I can remember having Christmases of getting a puzzle that didn’t even have all the pieces. So, don’t be ashamed of it. Your kids need a Christmas or you need some warm clothing, come down and help,” said Miller.
Winter clothes were stacked so high on the tables that people were able to take what they needed with minimal limitations. The offerings ranged from tents, tarps, blankets and sleeping bags, to hygiene items, ponchos, flashlights and stove cookers. “Come on down! Grab a blanket or a sleeping bag. We have tents for the homeless, we even have portable pop-ups,” some Tribal member volunteers told the Tribe’s Facebook live. Non- perishable food items were prepared in large bags with room for more items, new socks, gloves, scarves and hats. Brand new Helly Hansen rain gear and snow gear, in all sizes were just some of the most popular donated items.
But the most popular line wasn’t at the food or jackets table, but at the truck of toys. Thanks to returning donors, Toys for Tots and Ed Troyer of Pierce Country Crime Stoppers, a delivery truck full of toys made an entrance as grandiose as Santa’s sleigh, loaded with gifts and toys for the youngest generation. As Troyer was monitoring the back of the truck, helping kids in and out, he shared, “What we’re doing is taking the kids and letting them go pick something out. Then whatevers left over, the parents take to give to their kids.” And there most certainly was enough for every kid or parent to choose a selection of their favorites for Christmas. Families celebrated with smiles, and little ones picked out new balls, stuffed animals, Legos and games.
Sharing stories and laughter, all who came were fed a warm meal of chicken noodle soup and fresh fruit to enjoy around the fire pits. Others warmed their hands and roasted hot dogs. In caring for each other on this day of sharing, we see how the young, elderly, volunteers, donors, and recipients are one big family, who take care of each other as neighbors and relatives. We are all related.