KIRKLAND, WA – “That’s a lot of applesauce!” the smiling checkout clerk at Costco remarked as they scanned over the flatbed loaded waste-high with breakfast supplies.

Volunteer Peggy McAuley at New Bethlehem Project

Peggy McAuley, volunteer extraordinaire at New Bethlehem, a Catholic Community Services (CCS) day center in Kirkland, was making another purchase to cover breakfast needs for the next 10 days. In addition to the mountain of applesauce and breakfast bars on the flatbed, Peggy was purchasing the cups, utensils and paper towels needed so guests could take food back to their rooms.

As CCS King County works to create safer and more comprehensive options beyond mass shelters, the 27 families served by New Bethlehem have been staying and receiving services at the Redmond Inn. To keep everyone healthy and maximize physical distancing, meals have been served in the lobby and families are encouraged to return to their rooms to eat.

When Peggy responded to the clerk that she was purchasing the supplies for neighbors experiencing homelessness, the couple behind her offered to cover the costs. After Peggy shared that CCS would be paying for the supplies, the couple explained that they had seen the lines at the foodbank on television the night before and that they wanted their stimulus money to go to those who needed it more than they did. They pleaded with Peggy, “Please, let us do this!” Touched by their generosity, Peggy agreed. “I don’t know what to say” was all she could muster as she wiped tears from her eyes.

For $622 this loving couple bought a lot of applesauce and inspired a lot of hope in the process. Peggy reflected later, “It was so uplifting for me! Offering without being asked. See, there are good people in the world.”

The New Bethlehem Day Center provides families (adults with children under 18, or K-12, as part of the family unit and in attendance) experiencing homelessness with essential services including showers, laundry, social services, snacks and dinner. Construction of the permanent 24/7 emergency shelter for families experiencing homelessness is scheduled to finish August 1, 2020. For the latest updates email Rebecca Nightingale at

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