SEATTLE - Christmas is supposed to be a time for sharing generously. Everything from haircuts, meals, coats, tents and blankets were gifted to some of Seattle’s neediest on Christmas morning in Seattle’s Pioneer Square.
But the volunteers who made it all possible worry the number of those forced to go without might only grow.
It may have looked a lot like Christmas, but this holiday felt a lot different than before for those helping the city’s neediest populations.
"Everyone’s struggling right now," said Butter Brown from the non-profit organization Cozy Connections.
Friday’s event was the twelfth year in a row for Brown’s family. He says they served around three hundred people and many of them are homeless.
The last point-in-time count revealed a year-to-year increase of 5% for those living without a home in Seattle and King County. The increase was calculated before the pandemic crisis squeezed our economy.
"The need is more than Christmas," said Brown. "We need to do this in February and June."
"You see the looks on the faces when they get a hot plate, that feeling does something to me," said C. Davis who donated hundreds of meals alongside Cozy Connections.
Over the past year Davis says he has fed more strangers without charge than ever before. Since the pandemic, the University of Washington estimates around 30% in our state faced food insecurity.
The economic also crisis pushed even more people to the margins, so much that state and federal unemployment benefits totaled more than $16 billion in our state since March.
"I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better," said Davis. "I’m praying 2021 is better for everybody."
"Look at this right here," said Maurice Jordan. "This is what Christmas is all about, but it should be this way every day."
Christmas means nothing without giving. The volunteers at Cozy Connections say that is why they will do this all over again next year, because some worry the need for a helping hand just might grow larger than ever before.
"We can use this day to inspire others to do something bigger than themselves," said Marshall Hugh.