For many of us, the fortunate, the holiday season is a time of celebration and joy. It’s time spent with family and friends. Children with parents and grandparents, and even larger extended families for some. It’s a time of giving, and of giving thanks for what and for whom we have in our lives.

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Imagine sitting down with your family around the holiday meal table.  It’s likely something you’ve done many times.  I’m guessing there are probably some good memories popping up for you.   Now imagine looking across the table into the eyes of those you love the most, and telling them that all there is to eat are some ramen noodles, or maybe ketchup sandwiches.  Tuna if you’re lucky.  Imagine knowing for weeks beforehand that this is how it would be.  This is what you have to give.  The anticipation and dread of another holiday spent with virtually nothing.

For many in our community, this time of year is marked with stress, pain, and sadness. There are children living in dangerous situations, living with abuse and neglect. There are families living in severe poverty. There are parents who have no family or close friends, no support system for when times get really tough. And there are children who have no family at all, nobody to trust. Stresses multiply on top of stresses. It feels like there will never be relief, never be a way out or a way forward.

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Poverty is one of the most significant driving forces of stress, depression, spousal and child abuse, drug use, and crime in general.  Making an impact on poverty has an impact on so many other issues that affect our community.  On December 3 the Exchange Club of Downtown Spokane held their 50th annual Crab Feed to help children, parents, and families in distress find a path to better days through organizations like the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, Children’s Home Society of Washington-Spokane, and Partners with Families & Children.  This event has proven to make a big impact in our community, having raised almost $600,000 in the past 22 years for local non-profit organizations.

The event this year will make another big impact.  Along with the meal, attendees could bid on live and silent auction items, play games for prizes, and hit the photo booth in various states of silly disguise.

Will Smith and Alison Weigley.

Will Smith and Alison Weigley.

Karan and Jim Zastrow grab some gift card balloons, along with Shelly Nelson of Children's Home Society of Washington.

Karan and Jim Zastrow grab some gift card balloons, along with Shelly Nelson of Children’s Home Society of Washington.

Mixing it up at the photobooth.

Mixing it up at the photo booth.

Celebration at the ring toss.

Celebration at the ring toss.

Bob Burke always dresses like this, what are you talking about?

Bob Burke always dresses like this, what are you talking about?

 

Pure giving with nothing in return.

Pure giving with nothing in return.

The live auction gets rolling. Event emcee Robyn Nance in background.

The live auction gets rolling. Event emcee Robyn Nance in background.

A volunteer displays an autographed Mark Rypien Super Bowl XXVI MVP football.

A volunteer displays an autographed Mark Rypien Super Bowl XXVI MVP football up for live auction.

Timothy Pearson, Jarae Pearson, Jenny Purcell, Tracy Asheford, Dean Asheford, Nick Flett, and Eric Stapleton.

Timothy Pearson, Jarae Pearson, Jenny Purcell, Tracy Asheford, Dean Asheford, Nick Flett, and Eric Stapleton await dinner.

The 50th annual Exchange Club Crab Feed is a holiday season tradition, and attendees help give so many children and families in our community a reason to be thankful. But it’s never a bad season to be in the giving spirit.  Please think about that while watching this short video about what the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery does for our community.  Thank you.