Those in need started showing up before the sun peaked over Mount Rainier last week. The line twisted through an otherwise vacant lot below the Tacoma Dome as Puyallup tribal members set up tables of blankets and socks and shoes and jackets and food and toothpaste and coffee and cold medicine and sleeping bags and tarps to give away.
More than 300 people found warmth among the donations.
“I needed gloves,” said Don Culbertson. “Oh, man, did I need gloves. We have a beautiful God. I got them.”
By the time Culbertson walked away from the donation tables, he had three bags stuffed with canned food, clothing, a sleeping bag and a tarp. He also picked up a pair of new shoes.
James Ira Hill found a sleeping bag, a hoodie and warm socks that will hopefully tide him over until he gets a place at a veterans housing program in Olympia this winter. The 51-year-old Army veteran came to Tacoma to aid his ailing mother, who died two years ago.
“I’ve been out here ever since,” he said. “I’m starting my life over.”
Donations of food, wearable clothing, supplies and blankets are being accepted at the Puyallup Tribal Administration Building, 3009 Portland Ave., from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. any weekday. The next giveaway will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 20 at the lot at South ‘E’ and 26th streets.