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Volume 34
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Northwest Bears' Christmas Family Project spreads holiday cheer
Northwest Bears' Christmas Family Project spreads holiday cheer
by Dan Lee - Special to the SGN

How would you like to have $2,400 available for a Christmas shopping spree? Northwest Bears raised that amount from their members and friends for their Christmas Family Project to help make Christmas a little more cheerful for a needy family. The family was selected through Rise 'n Shine, a support group for youths who are impacted by HIV/AIDS, either because an adult family member or the children themselves are so afflicted.

The family sponsored by Northwest Bears consisted of a mother and 5 children, 3 boys and 2 girls, ranging from ages 5 to 17 years. It was a family not only burdened with HIV/AIDS but also had an absent father. A wish list from the family was obtained from Rise 'n Shine. While some toys and play things were requested, much on the wish list were necessities, such as clothing and household items. Armed with the wish list and the generosity of Bears and friends, our intrepid SantaBears went shopping.

Daunted at first by the variety of clothing styles and colors, they finally turned to other shoppers for help. They enlisted the aid of some African-American women shoppers, explained that they were shopping for gifts for a needy African-American family, and were astonished and gratified by their willing assistance. They helped by explaining sizing of women's clothing to advising on the color and style preferences of young children. Everything on the wish list was eventually acquired with money left over. Christmas stockings were stuffed with assorted sundries, and finally a Christmas dinner was ordered.

Santa's elves gathered to wrap all the gifts purchased; much Christmas wrap was donated by the Northwest Bears' members. Finally, the gifts were delivered on December 24. The mother and two teenaged girls knew that SantaBears would be arriving, but the younger children did not, so, they were completely surprised and overwhelmed. The Christmas dinner was delivered Christmas Day, along with groceries purchased with the remaining money. The appreciation of the family was heartwarming. "I'd do it again," said SantaBear Walt, recalling the joy in the faces of the young children. The Bears were rewarded with many hugs of thanks.

Thanks too, go to all the Northwest Bears members and to friends of Northwest Bears at the Bear Meet at CC Attle's for their donations, and to the many Bears who gave of a Sunday afternoon to wrap the gifts. Special thanks to SantaBears Warren Romero and Walt Menzl who spearheaded the drive and shopped til they dropped. Additional kudos to the manager of Video Only at Southcenter, who on learning of the Bears' Christmas Family Project, gave additional discounts on the sale merchandise purchased by the Bears.

2005 marks the third year that the Northwest Bears have "adopted" a needy family at Christmas time. In the past, families were identified by Children's Hospital "Adopt-a-Family" program. In 2005, a family from Rise 'n Shine was chosen. Rise 'n Shine has further been named as the beneficiary of the charity drive at Northwest Bears' upcoming Spring Thaw in April 2006. See Rise 'n Shine's website, www.risenshine.org, for more information about the organization.

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