Welcome to Seattle, newcomers. As you set down roots and become part of the community, you may be looking for ways to give back. Enter The Seattle Times Fund For The Needy. Here’s what it’s all about.

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Dear Newcomer,

Season’s greetings and welcome to Seattle!

Now that you’ve settled into your apartment/room/house in Capitol Hill/Ballard/Columbia City and gotten all that Ikea furniture put together, you’re probably ready to get to know your neighbors.


Each year, The Seattle Times Fund For The Needy raises money for a group of charities that help children, families and senior citizens. Throughout the season, The Times is telling how the 12 organizations make a difference in the lives of thousands, and the impact donors can have. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation to the Fund For The Needy.

You will find many just like you. Some 60,000 people moved to Seattle from outside King County last year, making this the fastest-growing city in the nation.

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And for that, we thank you.

We’re all enjoying the new people, restaurants, buildings and job growth we’ve experienced since Amazon moved out of that garage in Bellevue and took over South Lake Union, and the world. Some 238 cities have bid to host the Big Smile’s second headquarters. They want what we have.

But while we are a place filled with smarts and wealth — a computer programmer’s average annual salary is $120,000 — not everyone has had such good fortune.

For them, there is The Seattle Times Fund For The Needy.

In the last 39 years, the Fund has raised more than $22 million for local nonprofits that serve the homeless, families, young people and seniors with services, meals, shelter, job training, care and companionship. The need is widespread and visible.

I met Brandon Morrill in South Lake Union the other day. He moved here from Texas just a few months ago, and told me about stepping out of his Ballard apartment and running into five groups of homeless people.

“Seattle is a great city,” Morrill said. “But I could see there were problems when it comes to homelessness.”

Morrill knows that people like him “are making the city more expensive.”

“So I feel it’s my obligation to give back,” Morrill said. “I haven’t yet, but I feel like I should give back to the community. I feel like the city needs it.”

He’s right; the arrival of all these newcomers has had a downside for a lot of people. Since the tech boom has hit the region, more people have found it harder to make ends meet. A family of four needs a minimum of $76,000 a year to “scrape by.”

Others have been displaced and priced out of their homes and communities. They need food, housing, mental-health services. Kids need mentors and stability. Their parents need work training. And seniors need meals and activities.

They are your neighbors, too, and could use your help.

Fund For The Needy donations go directly to the nonprofits that The Seattle Times vets and selects to receive help. We don’t take a percentage; we do make sure these are reputable organizations doing solid and consistent work.

Nancy Hirschman moved here from Kansas City two years ago after her daughter, Amy, came here with her husband for his tech job.

“When you move to a community, you figure out the philanthropy and the people doing good things,” Hirschman told me.

“You find ways to volunteer and share the resources,” her daughter said. “It’s woven into the fabric of who we are.”

Lisa Hastings, an account manager at Microsoft who moved here two years ago, still gives money to a nonprofit in Denver, where she lived before coming to Seattle.

And while she and her colleague Mandy Leifheit donate to area nonprofits through a company program, they both believe that giving to something like Fund For The Needy can make a newcomer feel not only more a part of the community — but part of the solution to what ails it.

“Absolutely,” Leifheit said. “You need to make the place you live a better place.”

So many of us feel the need to make a difference. Fund For The Needy is a way to get involved right now, and right where you live and work; and to give back to the region where you have found good jobs, a fresh start, and natural beauty at every turn.

Becoming part of Seattle and setting down roots goes beyond unpacking and going to dinner, shopping on Market Street or buying flowers at the Pike Place Market.

It’s giving of yourself through Fund For The Needy. It’s making your mark by making a difference in the lives of people you may never meet.

And if you do get to meet them, all the better.

Wish them a happy holiday, knowing all the while that you played a small part of making it so, while making this place a little more yours.

Welcome. And thank you. And would you mind subscribing while you’re at it?