Pass The Hat begins helping locals, nears 1,000 contributors

Pass The Hat, a Whatcom County philanthropic organization with a unique fundraising method, recently provided assistance to its first several families and individuals.

Launched earlier this year, the organization has surpassed 900 contributors who give $2 each month through a credit or debit cards. Pass The Hat doesn’t accept donations larger than $2 per month.

“We don’t rely on fundraisers, auctions or large donations,” said executive director Galen Emanuele in a press release. “We rely on many people to just give a little, which makes it possible for every person to make an impact. You don’t have to be rich, that’s the beauty of it; it’s philanthropy for the rest of us.”

Pass The Hat doesn’t accept applications from those in need.

The organization relies on partners such as the local American Red Cross chapter, community support officers, police departments and others to bring worthy cases to its attention. A 12-person appropriations committee then makes decisions on disbursements.

“We help local families by providing financial relief from tragic events,” Emanuele said. “These families are already facing heartbreaking situations. The added burden of hospital bills, ambulance bills, funeral expenses, and more, is too much to bear.”

Emanuele was inspired to create Pass The Hat by his own family’s tragedy. His brother was killed in a car accident in 1998.

Some Whatcom County recipients of assistance from Pass The Hat include:

-A family from Acme whose 11-year-old son was injured by a 60-foot fall off a cliff and whose mother was injured while trying to reach the injured boy. Pass The Hat was prepared to donate $2,200 toward their medical bills, but was able to get the entire amount covered in the process of working with a hospital and advocating for the family.

-A mother in Bellingham who needed counseling after her teenage son took his own life.

-A woman in Everson who needed physical therapy after being the victim of an assault.

-A family in Bellingham weighed down by funeral expenses after a father committed suicide.

-Two families, one from Blaine and one from Bellingham, who needed temporary housing after losing their homes in fires.

“To be able to step in and tell these families, ‘Hey, you don’t have to worry about these bills,’ that’s the most amazing feeling in the world,” Emanuele said. “To have created a way for every person in the community to be part of that for only $2 a month, that feels pretty great, too.”

The organization is online at

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