Volunteers from Chelan County Fire District 5 braved the winter weather on Monday evening to surprise 13 families during their annual Season of Hope campaign.
Season of Hope began in 2009 after the opportunity fell in the agency’s lap, said Chief Arnold Baker.
“Manson Fire Department fell into this opportunity a few years back after donations came in and they needed a cause,” Baker said. “It came out that there were references for a few families in need in the community, so what started out as a few families is now about 15 to 20 families a year—usually those in the greatest need in the Manson community.”
The campaign fundraises for the holiday season with car washes, fire department open houses and more, raising an average of $20,000 a year, said volunteer Chris Wiloughby of Chelan County Fire District 5. He added that the rest of the the Season of Hope funds are donated to various programs and youth organizations throughout the Manson community, keeping the campaign local.
“The association has grown to a point where it became a 501c3 and we paired up with the Red Apple Market,” Baker said, adding that Season of Hope gives out between $7,000 to $7,700 a year in food certificates to help our community members.
In addition to a partnership with the local grocery store, Season of Hope also teams up with Manger Mall in the Chelan Valley to assist the community during the holiday season, donating $1,000 to the program this year. Manger Mall is a program that helps struggling families provide gifts for their children for Christmas.
“When we go out to deliver on our special night of the year, the families don’t know it’s coming,” Baker said. “When they open the door and you’ve got fire trucks and all the firefighters in your driveway it’s usually not a good sign—but for tonight for those families it’s a very good sign.”
Baker added that the families are happy to see the surprise visit, and feel relief during the cold time of season.
“Usually a lot of them are out of work, so to have a food certificate to get some groceries is just a huge blessing,” Baker said.