Jerry's View: Understanding the nature of giving

When I was a boy in Portland, Oregon, sometimes we got to go downtown at Christmas time where the Elks had rented the Hippodrome building and put on a big show for poor kids.

When it was over we lined up and each got a net stocking full of candy, a big orange and some kind of windup toy or a top you wound with a string and then threw it and it would spin. Wow!, It is a memory that has stayed with me and helped me understand the less fortunate.

Fast forward: The halcyon days of the mid-fifties at holiday time was very special. We had five little rascals and not much time or money.

But we were healthy and had more than others. Specifically more than some of the less fortunate families living in the tossed-together King County Housing project developed at the end of WWII near White Center.

The county needed room for the returning war vets and their growing
families.

White Center was a blue collar town. White Center Heights sprouted up as affordable for those families. So did more housing along 4th SW and 106th. The county had to remove a golf course near Lake Hicks to put the slap-dash wood buildings up in a hurry. We called it the "projects" for lack of a better term.

The White Center Lion's Club saw the need, as they have traditionally for many decades. Member solicited local businesses for donations of food, clothing, candy and toys.Floyd Wallen at Olberg's drug gave me a great bundle of toys he had down in his store basement. Everything was then assembled in the basement of the Epicure Restaurant and eventually loaded on a county Fire Truck. I asked my two available sons to tag along for the education it would bring. We weren't rich but we were able and we cared. Our insurance man, Fred Metzler, dressed up as Santa. His ample belly was perfect for the suit. He smiled through the fake beard and heavy white eyebrows beneath his red and white cap. Ho,Ho, Ho! Fred yelled as the truck wove through the community. The kids and adults would jump off the truck with their sacks of goodies designated for especially needy families who often did not even have a holiday tree. It was my goal to let my own children understand the nature of giving. I hauled a few bags too.

My kids may have been more excited about riding on the back of a Fire Engine, hanging by one arm as they tossed caution to the wind, albeit at 10 mph.

With gleaming smiles they too hopped from house to house with joy. One son said recently that the sojourn in the the projects to hand out those gifts was burned into his brain as an elemental Robinson family value. It was a powerful, permanent impression of Christian action. It colored his world as he became aware that he/we did not live that far above those who received the gifts.

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