Everett’s Jerry Garner is president of the Northwest Packer Backers, a fan group that supports the NFL team from his home town of Green Bay, Wisconsin. The group has been a generous supporter of Christmas House. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Everett’s Jerry Garner is president of the Northwest Packer Backers, a fan group that supports the NFL team from his home town of Green Bay, Wisconsin. The group has been a generous supporter of Christmas House. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Packer fans show generous spirit with Christmas House gifts

Everett’s Jerry Garner, a native of Green Bay, Wisconsin, is president of Northwest Packer Backers.

So close, so close, 28-23 — the Seahawks nearly had it Sunday in their NFC Divisional battle against the Packers. For Everett’s Jerry Garner, a native of Green Bay, Wisconsin, it was a day for wearing dark green and gold, the color of cheese. But then, so is every day.

“My high school was 15 minutes from Lambeau Field. The Baptist church I attended was a block away,” said Garner, 49, who on Monday was wearing his custom Packers jersey, with the number 1 and “Papa G” on the back.

In these parts, Garner is the No. 1 Packers supporter. He’s president of the Northwest Packer Backers, a fan club that according to its Facebook page has 1,778 members.

So while our Hawks are out of the running for a shot at Super Bowl LIV, Garner’s Packers are off to the NFC Championship bout Sunday with San Francisco’s 49ers. Still, let’s give those Packer Backers a gracious shout-out. It turns out, they’re a generous bunch.

“They basically chose us as a charity group they wanted to support,” said Gregg Milne, president of the board of directors for Christmas House.

Last month, the Northwest Packer Backers presented Christmas House with a check for “$2,019 in 2019,” Garner said. Although he’s a Seahawks fan, Milne stopped by the Packers group’s Dec. 29 game-watch gathering at the Mustard Seed Grill & Pub in Bellevue to get the donation.

An Everett-based nonprofit, Christmas House annually provides thousands of holiday gifts for children — infants to 18-year-olds — from low-income Snohomish County families. Founded in a garage in 1981, it’s grown into an operation that each December fills the Everett Boys & Girls Club with toys and other presents for nearly two weeks of free “shopping days.”

During the 2019 holiday season, Milne said, Christmas House provided gifts to 7,029 children from 2,381 families. “It takes about 46,000 gifts to do that,” Milne said last week.

The Packer Backers have supported the nonprofit for more than a decade. “”It’s quite amazing what they do,” Garner said of Christmas House. “We probably have donated over $30,000 in the last 15 years.”


“Kids can’t help the situation they’re in,” Garner said.

In addition to the club’s 2019 donation, the Christmas House website shows a $2,075 gift from the Northwest Packer Backers in 2018, and $2,650 in 2017. “They’ve been doing it for quite awhile,” Milne said. A 2010 Herald article listed a $1,500 donation to Christmas House from the Northwest Packer Backers.

Along with the camaraderie of watching their storied Packers together, “the philanthropy work we do is to give back to the communities we love and work in,” Garner said. His group also supports Northwest Harvest, a hunger relief agency.

Garner’s U.S. Navy service brought him to the Northwest in 1989. Today he works in IT, as a computer support specialist in Bellevue. He and his wife, Traci Garner, live in south Everett, where their apartment is packed with all things Packers.

A Green Bay banner hangs on one wall, a Packers clock on another. Framed behind glass is a vintage photo of crowd-filled Lambeau and a Brett Favre football card. There’s a plastic cheese wedge, a Mr. Potato Head in Packers gear, gold and green pom-poms, and a helmet that belonged to Donald Driver, a former Green Bay wide receiver who’s been on “Dancing with the Stars.”

The Garners’ one share of stock in Green Bay Packers, Inc. — perhaps not as great a treasure as the photo of their baby grandson — is on display, too. Green Bay Packers, Inc. was founded in 1923 as a publicly owned nonprofit corporation. Its common stock has been offered five times since 1923, the last time in 2012.

Garner said their investment helped refurbish Lambeau.

They lived in Green Bay for a time years ago, after Jerry left the Navy. “I loved it, but it gets a little cold — minus degrees,” said Traci Garner, who is secretary of the Packer Backers. Her husband, recalling a 12-foot snowfall back home, is happy to cheer on his home team from the Northwest.

At Bellevue’s Mustard Seed, one of two Packer Backers gathering places — the other is the Rhein Haus in Tacoma — he said the group gets along with Seahawks fans. The opposing groups take turns chanting, “Sea … Hawks,” and “Go Pack Go,” he said.

Garner said older Seahawks fans are more apt than younger ones to get along with rival cheeseheads. Some, he said, may have liked the Packers before the Hawks’ first season in 1976. Mostly, Garner said, “everybody respects each other.”

“The thing about the Green Bay group is people feeling they have a home away from home,” he said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Ron Detrick teaches his geometry class Wednesday morning at Lakewood Middle School in Marysville on May 12, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
For real, these Lakewood pupils are back in class full time

Elementary and middle school students are getting in-person instruction five days a week.

Darren Redick is the new CEO of Providence’s Northwest Washington service area. (Providence Health and Services) 20210514
Providence stays local in selecting a new regional CEO

Based in Everett, Darren Redick will lead the health care provider’s Northwest Washington area.

Georgie Gutenberg
Death of Lake Stevens woman not suspicious

Police had asked for the public’s help to search for Georgie Gutenberg. She was found dead Sunday.

Everett man shot while walking his dog identified

Ryan S. McFadden, 33, died of gunshot wounds.

Man killed by train near Snohomish is identified

The Marysville man, 45, was hit Thursday morning south of the Snohomish River.

Students lead charge as Langley council takes climate action

The Whidbey Island city has declared a climate emergency and has pledged to involve United Student Leaders.

Douglas Ryner, 8, brushes twin cows Thelma and Louise at the Evergreen State Fair on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019 in Monroe, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
11 days of glee: Evergreen State Fair ‘Back in the Saddle’

The fair was called off in 2020 due to COVID-19. Organizers are planning a revised event this year.

Firefighters douse the flames at the NOAA Fisheries Building Friday evening in Mukilteo on May 14, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Fire damages NOAA site near new ferry terminal in Mukilteo

Smoke flooded the waterfront Friday night as fire crews descended on the abandoned research center.

Karen Moore
Civil attorney appointed to be Snohomish County judge

Karen Moore is a former deputy prosecutor. She also has experience as a pro tem judge and commissioner.

Most Read