Inspired by stories of steep challenges overcome and warmhearted assistance tendered, Seattle Times readers donated more than $2.6 million to the 44th edition of the annual Fund for Those in Need.

The holiday season campaign, which raises money to support 13 nonprofit service agencies in the Puget Sound region, received more than 4,400 contributions this time around, ranging from $1 to $50,000.

From Seattle to Bellevue and from Shoreline to Kent, the agencies help community members escape domestic violence, climb out of homelessness and cope with mental health crises. They connect kids with mentors and parents with groceries. They care for toddlers with special needs.

Each year, The Times publishes a series of stories about how the agencies change lives. And each year, the campaign makes Bothell resident Jason Sparks think about the period in his childhood when his mother visited food banks to make sure they had enough to eat at home, he said.

Sparks, 50, donated to the Fund on New Year’s Eve, calling The Times “an organization I trust” to make sure his dollars are well-used.

“Hearing real peoples’ stories is important” Sparks said. “I haven’t always been in the position I’m in today, where I can help others.”


The Fund collected less money this holiday season than in 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, when unprecedented challenges related to COVID-19 drove readers to contribute more than $3 million per year. Still, the latest campaign raised more than any before the pandemic. Because employees at The Times handle all the reporting and administrative work, every penny raised is sent directly to the nonprofits, Times President Alan Fisco noted.

“I am again awed by the generosity of our readers,” Fisco said Friday, calling out a $45,000 donation from Argosy Cruises. “I also want to congratulate our agencies for their incredible work each and every day.”

Besides soliciting money, the campaign boosts awareness about the nonprofits. Atlantic Street Center’s Kinship Care program, which supports grandparents raising grandchildren, has seen more inquiries since a Times story highlighted the program, a spokesperson for the agency said.

Some readers donate to the Fund every year, like clockwork. Lisa Chang, of Bryant in Seattle, started reading Times stories with her son, Tommy, and contributing to the campaign years ago, after Tommy was diagnosed with dyslexia. The tradition has helped Tommy, 12, become a great reader and taught him about the world at the same time, his mother said.

Tommy was particularly touched by a recent story that described how a therapist and a case worker from Childhaven worked with a kid in Burien who was struggling with tantrums and violent episodes. They used strategies like scheduling changes, fidget toys and snacks to soothe his emotions.

“The people who work at the nonprofits have these specific skill sets that are really important,” said Lisa Chang, 59.


Some other readers, like Eileen Maxfield, donated this winter for the first time. Maxfield and her husband moved to Bothell less than a year ago, she said. They’re still getting to know the area but are aware that homelessness is a major challenge. They thought the Fund would be a good way to help, in keeping with their Unitarian Universalist convictions, said Maxfield, 72.

“Seattle housing is acutely divided between haves and have-nots,” she said.

When possible, Wellspring Family Services seeks to narrow that divide. A Times story recounted how a mother who had just begun working as a medical assistant was unexpectedly displaced from her Renton rental home. She didn’t have enough money to cover moving expenses, so Wellspring stepped in, ensuring she and her kids were housed.

“Donations to the Fund enable Wellspring to act quickly, reduce trauma and work with families,” said Asa Tate, the nonprofit’s chief development officer.“Together, we continue to prevent homelessness before it happens.”

Magnolia resident Gregory Mock gets why prevention is crucial. Not long ago, when an unsheltered woman knocked on his door asking for help in the wet and cold, he struggled to quickly locate a place for her to recover. That experience was on his mind when he donated to the Fund in December.

“It made me more committed to the idea that we need to support the organizations that are doing things,” said Mock, 68. “You really have to remember that you live” not just in a city, but “in a community.”