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Neighbors weathering tough times need help

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By Brian Sullivan
To my friends in Snohomish County, despite signs that our economy is beginning to recover, it is no secret that we are still facing some very harsh economic realities. Even with nearly 160,000 new jobs in the U.S. as of January 2013, there are still many people who are struggling nationally, and even in our own communities around this county. We must help them bridge the gap between poverty and hope during their time of need if we want our communities to keep growing stronger and eventually be able to thrive again.
We all know people who are unemployed or underemployed. Many working families still can't manage to make ends meet and many of these families have to cut back on food in order to pay for medicine, utilities, or other necessities. Many of these families rely on the services of organizations like Volunteers of America (VOA). In 2012, the VOA Everett Food Bank served an average of 5,000 people a month, 50 percent of which were children and seniors. VOA has a presence in our community and has made it their mission to help bridge the gap between those who are in need of food and its accessibility. With their best efforts, there is still a lot of work to be done by VOA and so they are turning to us -- the Snohomish County community -- for help.
From March 1 to April 30, the Feinstein Foundation is challenging communities from around the United States to help fight hunger in their backyards. The Feinstein Challenge is a great opportunity as it takes monetary and food donations and provides a partial match. In doing this, they will help stretch every donation that VOA receives that is designated for the Feinstein Challenge. If there is a time to donate, this is that time.
Although we live in an area rich with opportunity, we should not forget that we are not immune to the harsh realities of the world around us. Just as much as Everett is home for hard-working, prosperous people, we also have folks here for have fallen on difficult times -- people who need a boost to get back on their feet. Since the late 1800s, Volunteers of America has helped give those boosts, not just around the country, but right here in Snohomish County. With your help, the Volunteers of America can expand the amount of citizens they help to get back on their feet.
For well over a hundred years, Volunteers of America has been able to foster programs which have helped individuals and families alike, whether they are handicapable adults or single-parent families that are scraping by, along with a wide range of other circumstances that are unavoidable at times. This is apparent in the foothold that VOA has in our community, more specifically the Everett Food Bank.
Not only does the Everett Food Bank stand on its own by serving the entire city of Everett, but it also houses the Snohomish County Food Distribution Center, which reaches out to nearly two dozen other food banks in the area. Additionally, VOA has additional food banks in the region (North Seattle, Sultan, and Mill Creek), which serve to end hunger in their respective communities. If Volunteers of America is willing to do something, we should be able to contribute as well to get a larger amount of food into these banks and in turn, into the hands of families in need.
Thanks to the Feinstein Challenge, you can help make a bigger impact in Snohomish County and help more families who are in desperate need of something to eat. I implore my neighbors and constituents to dig deep and see what you can do to help those who are simply trying to survive these tough times. I am proud to be serving the people of Snohomish County, and proud of the generosity so many in our community have already shown in these hard times. This is what sets our beloved county apart from others and why I have so much faith in our future.

Brian Sullivan is a Snohomish County councilman.

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