People at the Sumner and Auburn food banks have long known the name Ethel Garrison. She had been a regular donor for years.
“Her 20 dollars always came in,” said Auburn Executive Director Debbie Christian. “We’d say, ‘Here’s Ethel’s check!’”
But when Ethel died last December, both food banks received much bigger checks. They found they had been written into the will left by her and her husband, Don, who died a year earlier.
By the time all the money is paid out, the food banks will each be $140,000 richer, according to the executor of the will. In Auburn, that means a chance to expand the “Backpack Program” that feeds kids on weekends -- fully funding the program for another seven years.
“It just makes you feel tingly. Just all tingly” says Christian.
In Sumner, they’ve been able to buy a delivery truck for the first time. The rest of the Garrisons’ bequest will buy food for the 275 families the organization feeds every month.
“I think it is true Americana” said Food Bank Vice-Chairman Dr. Don Weber, “When there is clearly a need, people give all the way from the bottom of their wallet.”
The Salvation Army, World Vision and The Union Gospel Mission also felt the Garrisons’ generosity. All together, the gifts total $1 million.
That they had the heart for giving was not a surprise to their families. But that cool million dollar total?
“That was a very generous thing to do. But I truly did not think they had that kind of money,” said Mary Jane Tinsley, smiling at the memory of her “frugal” coupon clipping, sale-searching sister.
“They didn’t live a lavish lifestyle at all,” she said. “They wanted to help other people.”