SEATTLE - The director of Mary’s Place called Tuesday’s news of raising more than $2 million for the emergency family shelter "lifesaving."
Marty Hartman announced that Mary's Place had reached its goal, showing off the new building given by Amazon that will house 200 family members each night.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos had promised to match up to $1 million, and Mary’s Place exceeded that goal on Tuesday, which means more than $2 million for the charity.
“(We did a) happy dance,” Hartman told KIRO 7. "We were all just jumping and shouting for joy, full of gratitude and thanksgiving.”
Mary’s Place is now housing families in the building that Amazon donated for the next year. Amazon owns the old Travelodge and college dorm on Eighth and Bell and doesn’t plan to develop it until spring of 2017.
In the meantime, Amazon renovated the building to fit the needs of the homeless shelter and is paying for its utilities.
“(We want) to bring everyone inside, keep them warm, keep them safe,” said Hartman. “It's the best gift you can give.”
Construction crews did the heavy work to make the rooms ready for families in need, but Amazon employees did all the finishing touches.
“They were just coming out left and right,” said John Schoettler, Amazon's director of global real estate. “And it was hard to almost field all their inquiries wanting to know how they could get involved."
The building is already housing families like Laura Long and her 6-year-old son Gio, who has multiple serious health conditions. Hospital bills have made it too tough for them to keep a home.
“(We're) sleeping in a car quite a bit,” said Long, who also expressed gratitude for having some stability.
Families stay with Mary's Place for an average of 60 days.
Mary's Place created a wish list on Amazon.com of everything it needed to fill out the place, such as furniture, baby's cribs, beds and bedding. People from across the country have been donating.
To donate, visit MarysPlaceSeattle.org and look for the link for the Amazon wishlist.
With the new $2 million donation, Mary's Place officials will look for more locations to house more families.
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