Lakewood Public Works employees carry on tradition of giving
This week the Lakewood Public Works Department delivered a truckload of toys to the Tillicum Community Center to be given to Tillicum families attending the center’s annual Christmas dinner.
The toys were purchased with money donated by employees of the department, former longtime Public Works director Don Wickstrom (who retired earlier this year), Pro Vac, Brian Fagernes with Cascade ROW Services and other contractors and friends.
The department has done something for the community around the holidays every year for the last decade. It started in 2007 when Public Works employees adopted a mom and her three daughters who were leaving an abusive situation and living in a low-rent apartment with next to nothing.
After learning of their struggles department employees furnished the apartment with everything from new beds and mattresses to a couch and kitchen table and chairs. The also: repaired the rotting deck and damage to the walls; installed a new toilet; purchased Christmas tree and presents to go under it; and supplied them with clothing and food.
The department’s generosity gave the mom a renewed sense of freedom and the feeling that she could survive the situation she faced.
The following year the department shifted its focus to collection drives – choosing new recipients each year. Over the years that included adopting families and fulfilling their holiday wish lists, collecting food for different food drives, working with LASA to provide a Christmas for children that stay at the facility, donating to a toy drive for foster children, donating 20,000 pounds of dog and cat food to an area animal shelter, a pajama and sock drive and last year donating to Toys for Tots.
“This year we wanted to reach as many children as possible,” said administrative assistant Karen Devereaux, who said she was getting goosebumps just thinking about the amount of toys they were able to deliver.
Devereaux and compliance inspector Diana Halar did the shopping this year. They focused on sales and negotiated prices to get the most bang for their buck. The were able to purchase roughly $1,500 worth of items for $1,000.
“We always get construction themed stuff – that’s our deal,” Devereaux said. “We might make some wishes come true. It’s really fun every year.”
Halar noted being part of the department giving is “a most rewarding endeavor.”
“It really gets the holidays started for me,” she said.
Other departments within the city also found ways to give back this year.
- Lakewood Municipal Court staff collected a large number of new gloves and hats and donated them to Greater Lakes Mental Healthcare.
- The city’s Human Resources staff is scheduled to volunteer Dec. 20 at the Emergency Food Network warehouse repacking food items.
- The Lakewood Officer’s charity will hold its annual Shop with an Officer event Saturday (Dec. 16) at the Lakewood Wal-Mart. Sixteen families were identified who will get to shop with a Lakewood officer and choose items for everyone in their family with funds donated by the charity.