Motivated by stories of mentorship, climbs out of homelessness, aid for refugees, youth therapy and dance classes for seniors, Seattle Times readers donated more than $3.2 million to the Fund for Those in Need campaign, supporting 13 nonprofit service agencies in the Puget Sound region.

The amount is the second most in the holiday season campaign’s 43-year history, trailing only last year’s tally.

In total, the Fund for Those in Need raised $3,203,009, bringing the sum raised since the campaign’s inception to nearly $34 million.

Nearly 5,000 people donated, in quantities large and small, ranging from $1 to $150,000.

Anne Santee-Stoner, an interior designer who lives in Ballard, said it wasn’t any one story that persuaded her to donate, but the consistent thrum of need she sees. The nearly 2-year-old pandemic, she said, seems to have exacerbated it. She donated right around Christmas.

“The idea of families around here having to not only worry about food, but that time of year when expectations are you’re taking care of your family and you can’t,” Santee-Stoner said. “I just would like to see anyone who can, give as much as they can, wherever they can.”

Advertising

The $3.2 million raised exceeded the $3 million goal, said Seattle Times President Alan Fisco.

“I am so thankful of our readers’ generosity,” Fisco said. “Our annual campaign is a great example of our public service mission that is at the core of what we do every day.”

Sheila Addleman, a photographer who lives in Southeast Seattle, appreciated that the series of stories highlighted the good work and the successes of the organizations.

“I think it’s the consistency and the fact that it’s all positive; it gives it such a nice change from the mayhem and what not,” Addleman said.

The agencies, like all of us, have adapted as the pandemic shifted their day-to-day realities.

Asian Counseling and Referring Service moved many of its community-building events — karaoke, dance lessons, meditation — onto Zoom. Club Bamboo, the popular program, has become Cloud Bamboo, connecting seniors online who might otherwise be isolated.

Advertising

Sound Generations has continued to offer its Community Dining program, serving 20,000 monthly meals in 19 locations around King County, providing nutrition and a chance for many seniors to escape isolation.

All donations go directly to the 13 nonprofits. The Seattle Times covers all administrative costs.

In addition to the direct financial help from the campaign, the agencies saw other benefits from their work being featured.

The Atlantic Street Center, which has offered services in South Seattle since 1910, has adapted as the neighborhoods have changed, still offering after-school and extracurricular programs, while adding more clinical counseling and domestic violence services. After The Times published the story that featured the agency, the nonprofit got a letter from a man who had come to Atlantic Street when he was a boy, in the 1940s.

“Like so many of our neighbors, our Italian family was poor,” he wrote. “In the summer, we kids in the area came to the Center for various activities. Sometimes it would be a movie or a ‘funhouse.’ There were various games we could play. The pool room was upstairs.”

He wrote about visiting parks and going on hikes with the center staff and how “our puny basketball team got trounced.”

Advertising

Teresa Everett, Atlantic Street Center director of public relations and resource development, said the letter captured the work they do.

“It’s memories like this that remind our team of our legacy and just how vital it is that we continue to provide resources and services to our youth and families,” Everett said.

LifeWire, a Bellevue-based agency that serves domestic violence survivors in East and North King County, saw a dramatic uptick in both website traffic and social media followers after The Times published a story on how it was handling the increase in domestic violence cases during the pandemic.

A story about the services provided by Childhaven to a family that had been homeless spurred a record-setting month for donations in December, the child development agency said, and a double-digit increase in donations in the last half of 2021 over the previous six months.

After reading about a young woman who’d gotten through foster care and graduated from high school with help from Treehouse, a nonprofit that aids the education of youth in foster care, one reader felt compelled to write to the organization.

A Boeing retiree, he’d been a regular donor to Treehouse through the company’s annual giving program.

He meant to continue giving in retirement, he wrote, “but life is full of things that require one’s attention, and it was easy to put it off for later.”

But seeing the article, he wrote: “It seemed like a perfect time to follow through and donate in honor of each of my four children that are now adults on their own. It was my gift to them.”