Puyallup Tribe gifts the homeless with Christmas giveaway

Each year as Christmas Day approaches, Puyallup Tribal Councilwoman Sylvia Miller organizes a giveaway event for our area’s homeless population, and she carried that legacy forth this year on Saturday morning, Dec. 16. In previous years the giveaway was held in a gravel parking lot near the Tacoma Dome, but a new location this time, the parking lot of the tribe’s administrative building, worked well and attracted long lines of folks grateful for the early Christmas.

Spread out on long tables were piles of clothing, coats, sleeping bags and tents, gloves and hand-warmers, non-perishable foods and much more. Off to the side, Crime Stoppers of Tacoma/Pierce County Executive Director Ed Troyer and his helpers distributed new toys, in keeping with Troyer’s busy holiday schedule of bringing Christmas cheer to those whose holiday may not be as bright otherwise.

Among those who return each year to give of their time to help out is State Rep. David Sawyer (D-Tacoma). “This is what it means to care for your neighbors and community members,” he said. “It’s what the holiday season is supposed to be about. I’m grateful to the Puyallup Tribe for leading this event every year that helps so many people in our community.”

On this chilly, lightly rainy day, fires were lit in portable steel, woodburning fire pits for folks to gather round, and steaming hot, homemade soup was served courtesy of chef Lisa Earl, executive director of the tribe’s Little Wild Wolves Youth and Community Center. Hot dogs roasted on barbeque grills and hot chocolate was distributed to anyone who asked.

Miller expressed much gratitude for everyone who helped make the giveaway possible. Among them are Amy Ruble, Washington House Democrats Deputy Chief of Staff; Brian Duthie, first responder with the Everett Fire Department; Rep. David Sawyer and his legislative assistant Kacie Masten; and

Rep. Melanie Stambaugh (R-Puyallup).

“Big thanks to the Puyallup Tribal Council for caring about the less fortunate individuals in this community. You all really live up to our given name, the Puyallup Tribe (the giving people),” Miller said. “I want to thank all the tribal departments and individuals that donate to this worthy cause. You made many people happy that people do care. I would like to give a special thanks to all the volunteers, from the youth to each elder that spent their day helping with this yearly event. You are the most awesome individuals of all. Thanks to Ed Troyer of Crime Stoppers; John Weymer at Tacoma Weekly; Linda Dillon, director of Flames of Recovery; and my family – I cannot thank you all enough.”

The Puyallup Tribe has a keen sense of how to help our homeless neighbors, whether it’s opening the homeless help center Flames of Recovery, setting up tables full of giveaway items in a parking lot, or the Tribe’s wrap-around services program with case managers working with tribal members who are out there struggling. The tribe sees the need out there and does what needs to be done to help solve the homeless problem on the reservation and in the community.

Tribal Councilwoman Annette Bryan said she’d like to see more strategic partnerships with the City of Tacoma, Pierce County and the Tribe to work together to provide solutions to this problem that all areas share.

“I found it striking that one of the gentlemen came up to me and said there really needs to be more of this because his homelessness situation isn’t a result of him being a drug addict and that if felt good to be treated like a human being,” she said. “That really touched my heart. I felt sad he even had to tell me that. I have been homeless and I understand there are situations that cause people to go through hard times. Taking the judgment off of that population and meeting them where they are as human beings is what I loved most about that event.”