Rhonda Warnack: Extending the joy of the holidays to vulnerable families


September 12, 2017

In 1995, Rhonda Warnack and her husband Paddo were at a local Portland, OR, pub having a drink and anticipating the holiday season. There was a Christmas tree, sponsored by the Salvation Army, with nametags of local underprivileged children. They picked a nametag, Madeline, and returned with a gift. But they noticed that many nametags remained unclaimed.

The next year, Warnack, a manager with Cognosante Health Consulting Services, and Paddo had their first “Madeline’s Party,” a potluck with about 20 guests. They sponsored gifts for about 25 children, and the fundraiser has been conducting a toy drive in the Portland area ever since.

Rhonda Warnack and her husband Paddo

“The mission of our organization is to provide holiday gifts to vulnerable families in our area,” Warnack says. “Over the years, we have provided more than 5,500 gifts for our participating families.”

Each year, board members and volunteers sponsor an event where attendees bring gifts that participating families have requested. In appreciation, the nonprofit organization provides food, drinks, and entertainment. Last year, they served as host to about 350 guests and helped bring in more than 500 gifts. Madeline’s Party also supports other groups that would like to host their own events.

“Our belief is that most people want to give—they just need the door open to do it,” Warnack says. “We open that door.”