Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 Holly House Event

They toy area being set up (click image to enlarge)

Holly House was such a huge blessing to so many families this year. It could not have happened without the help of all of the amazing volunteers that showed up to help. And of course, the Holly House Team and Board Members. This year we served almost 1600 children.

 Please click here to see more photos from the event this year.

We take boxes and boxes from storage, bring them to the gym in piles, and actually transform it into a magical shopping experience for our families. We have from 3:30 pm Friday till Saturday night at 11 pm to do this. Only a miracle and lots of volunteers working really hard can pull this off.

Thank you so much to all the people who donated toys and gifts to our kids. For most of our kids this is the only toy they will get for Christmas. Hopefully, with your help, next year we will have enough toys to give them two toys.

Among the thing we were able to give each child were:
  • a bag of stocking stuffers
  • dental supplies
  • a stuffed animal
  • books
  • a toy
  • a pair of pajamas
  • socks/underwear
  • a hat and scarf
    Jan & Phyllis setting up the coat display.
  • one coat (per family)

Holly House is not just about toys at Christmas time. Our children need basic things like pajamas and coats. So many of our families can't afford to keep the heat on at night so their children go to bed cold. Warm flannel and polar fleece pajamas are a simple solution to a serious problem. 

This year, thanks to a huge donation, we were able to give each family one coat. One day...a coat for every child. So many of our kids don't have a coat. So often, a hat and scarf is the only thing that keeps them from the biting cold.

We fill the stockings with make-up, shaving cream, deodorant, body lotions, hair accessories, etc and of course, candy, toys, books, stuff. Also thanks to the Verdant Health Commission we were able to pass out dental supplies as well. 

If you want to get your children involved with Holly House, have them sort through their stuffed animals and give the ones they don't play with any more to Holly House. They can even get their friends involved. Kids love to help and give and we need a lot of stuffed animals.  

A volunteer helping a parent pick out pajamas for her children
There are huge sales going on. Pick up an extra pair or two of pajamas and drop them off at the office at Armadillo Storage on Hwy 99 in Lynnwood, MS Helping Hands under the IGA in Edmonds, and the Mountlake Terrace Senior Center (they all take donations year round).

We have volunteer opportunities all year long in order to get Holly House ready for 2014. Please consider donating your time - it's one of our most valuable resources.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A nice write up from My Edmonds News

My Edmonds News did a lovely write up about our 2013 Holly House event. Please check it out!

We are recovering from the event, but will post updates and photos as soon as we can!!
Thank you to all of our volunteers and donors for helping us serve 2300 children this year!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Toy Drive spotlight - Brier Elementary

I wanted to share with you the excitement and pride that happens during a toy drive. It is easy for me to write this post, because I have been at our Brier Elementary Toy Drive every morning this week. This is the first year we have held a drive, and I wasn't sure what the reaction would be. I don't know why I was worried...

The response has been incredible, and I'm sure the same thing happened at all of the local schools holding drives. Knowing that these toys are going to go to fellow students and neighbors makes people feel at ease about donating. It gives them a sense of worth and pride to help someone so close. I knew this would be an easy thing to sell. What I didn't expect was the reaction of the children.

Every morning we had at least five 5th and 6th graders signed up to help at morning drop off (we wanted to include the kids as much as possible). This turned into a small crowd gathered around the drop box each morning. Excitement built as we brought the bin from the office to see what had accumulated since the past morning. "Oh, cool, that's a fun toy!" "Wow, look at the bin, it is overflowing!!" "How many bins does this make" "Should we move them to the car to make more room?"

You could tell that the kids bringing in toys were proud to help. Some were a little shy. Some were a little hesitant to put one of their own toys in the bin for someone else. But they all opened their backpacks and hearts and shared something with someone else. Some of the kids had nothing to give, but they were there every morning willing to help in whatever way they could. Some of these kids I know could probably use the help of Holly House themselves.

One boy (5th grade) became a cheerleader of sorts...asking kids (politely) "have you donated yet?". He also said that most everyone in his class had donated, and he even brought in extra toys so that those who hadn't could have one to donate.

One boy (a kindergartner) approached with much hesitation, saying he had brought a stuffed animal to donate. He left, but then came back. Out of his backpack he pulls out his "very favorite" stuffed animal that was securely wrapped in a knit hat for the journey. He put it in the bin and I asked him if he was sure, he said "yeah, I brought it to donate", and he had a big big smile as he walked away.

One boy said, "oh, is this the last day? I didn't get to go through my things and find something". He was there every morning giving moral support. I told him that just helping is a great gift in itself. He smiled and agreed, and he said "maybe next year".

Next year, for certain!!!

~ Jen, Holly House volunteer & Blogger

Here is the result of our Toy Drive - wow!!! It takes up the floor of our double garage

We have over 17 boxes now that the day is over!

Holly House is a year in the making...

Sorting party at the storage facility Nov 2013
You know, I love the incredible response we are getting for our kids but I want to share something that is close to my heart.

It takes us all year long to prepare for the Holly House weekend. We start a day or two after the event, shopping for 70% - 90% sales for the next year. We write grants, do sports equipment, sock & underwear drives in the spring. We scour garage sales for donations for Christmas and home decor for the families. We do fundraisers and many, many sorting parties.

Often it's the same few people doing all the work for months and months and months. We get so tired and really need help. I would challenge some of you to think about joining us throughout the year, to volunteer to help.

There are so many things you could do from sorting parties, having guests bring underwear & socks to family or friend gatherings, getting your company involved, donating your leftover gently used garage sale items, encourage your children and their friends to go through their stuffed animals and donate the ones they aren't using any more, doing a fund raiser for us, to name a few....

We need you to make this happen.

We will work on communicating out our needs throughout the year, and stay tuned here and on Facebook for updates! You can always contact me and we will work out a way for you to help throughout the year.

~Pam Martinez, Executive Director

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Holly House participation is filled for 2013

At this time, we are closed for applications for Holly House 2013. 

Sadly, we are unable to help every family in need this holiday within the Edmonds School District, (though we are making great strides to meet that goal someday in the future).

The final week is here!

We are well on our way to opening the doors for Holly House THIS WEEKEND!!

First car load of toys from Brier Elementary Toy Drive

Donations of toys and PJ's are still greatly appreciated and needed, and can be dropped off this week at Armadillo Storage (23031 Highway 99, Edmonds) and Sparta's Pizza (17630 Hwy 99, Lynnwood).

We have found tables and all of the pieces are coming together to put on this giant event. 
Thank you all for your support!

A note from Pam Martinez (Executive Director):
"We had our last planning meeting tonight (12/9), getting all our ducks in a row for Holly House this coming weekend. The excitement is building, the donations are flooding in and we are all rolling up our sleeves for a fun but intense weekend. I have such an amazing team.

Over and over I am reminded that none of this could happen without a good and faithful God and the incredible volunteers He has given us.

It touches my heart so much to see the relief and joy the parents experience when they walk into Holly House and realize their children will be taken care of, that they will have warm clothes and pajamas, that they will have a toy to play with and books to read. That they will have toothpaste and a tooth brush. Our kids deserve so much and what a privilege it is to be part of an amazing gift, this thing called Holly House.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Countdown - less than 2 weeks to go!

As everyone starts to prepare for the holidays, we are busy as bees at Holly House ensuring we are ready for our families at our shopping event. We are within 2 weeks of our date, and are still in need of many donations! Perhaps you want to organize a pajama or toy drive with your friends, family, or work group? Please spread the word! Feel free to leave a comment here if you plan to surprise us with some last minute donations!

We have a growing number of people who need the items we provide, and we would love to be able to support all of them this year.
Our PJ sorting party in 2011
Right now we need more:
  • Pajamas (ages infant - 10 years old)
  • Toys (ages infant - 17 years old) 
  • Socks and underwear (ages infant - 17 years old)
You can drop them at any of our pre-arranged drop boxes, or contact us to arrange a large drop off!


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