West Seattle Community Service

Many ASG neighborhood groups engage in a charitable giving project. For more than a decade, the West Seattle Neighborhood Group has devoted its December meeting to assembling gifts for a local transitional shelter. Hickman House provides housing for families who are surviving domestic violence.

Members of the neighborhood group collect toiletries all year—from dentists’ samples of toothpaste to hotels’ small bottles of shampoo. Members in the larger chapter donate to our collection, too. Various members make Individual toiletry bags and others are donated. At our December work party, we unload the cartons of samples on tables, the group sorts the year’s collection into piles of like items, and then everyone grabs a bag and walks around the table, putting one item from each collection (soap, shampoo, dental floss) in to a bag. By the end of the meeting, we have about 60 bags to donate. All the leftover items are bagged up and taken to the shelter, too.

But toiletries bags are not all we supply! Member Claudia Smith makes ten to fifteen stuffed animals each year for Hickman House. Normally she makes them entirely by herself, but in 2019 we devoted our November meeting—when we typically learn how to make a handmade craft –to helping stuff and stitch the nearly-complete stuffed animals. By the end of the meeting all the animals were ready to give away, but it was tempting to adopt the animals ourselves!

2020 challenged our normal giving. Back in 2019 we had noted that toiletries were harder to collect as hotels moved away from single-use supplies in favor of in-room dispensers. And if we couldn’t meet in person, how could we still give to families who needed help? Claudia still made her gorgeous stuffed animals. The chapter had a surplus of high-quality army-green flannel. Helen Gorsuch and Molly Wangerin worked out how to sew the flannel into receiving blankets and throws. Claudia collected donations of toiletries and delivered them all to Hickman House. 1.15.21