Friday, December 26, 2014

December gift giving

We had an amazing event this year, and are very thankful to our supporters.  As we get ready to close out 2014, please consider supporting Holly House 2015 with a donation by Dec 31, 2014. All donations are tax-deductible, as we are a 501(c)(3) charity (funds are processed through our fiscal sponsor, Protocol Foundation).

Donations can be made without a Paypal account

You can donate with a credit card via Paypal by clicking the Donate button above (you don't need a Paypal Account - see image to the right). We use bulk buying power to buy discounted toys and necessities, as well as use the funds to support our operating costs.

Some great deals can be found!
You can also keep your eye out for after Christmas sales and clearance items. Your donations can go twice as far if you buy things at over half off! You may leave your gifts at one of our year-round drop boxes. Toys, warm winter pajamas, socks and underwear are all greatly needed by our families.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What one mom's volunteer experience at Holly House might teach us all

About a month ago at my mothers' group, I expressed the sense of sadness and helplessness I feel when thinking of individuals in need.  More specifically, now that I am a parent, I have this all-encompassing ache for parents struggling to provide a safe and warm home for their children.  And then there are the children hoping for a Christmas or Hanukkah filled with lights, presents, and for their parents to be relaxed and free of worry.

Aimee and her daughter
The next morning our discussion was followed up with a private message about Holly House and the event on December 14th.  The instant flow of excuses began to build in my head- I'm so busy, I should be at work instead, I should be home with my family, I should be Christmas shopping... and that did it.  The fact that I could go buy presents without a second thought was a reality check on how I could better spend my time.  I signed up immediately before I could change my mind. 

Holly House For Kids 2014.  I would like to begin by acknowledging that I was ignorant about how many families in our area need our help.  After parking several blocks away due to a clog of cars in the parking lot, I assumed that it was from the dozens and dozens of volunteers arriving for their 2 pm start.  I was wrong.  The handful of 2 pm volunteers were far outnumbered by the hundreds of guests in line to collect much needed items for their families.

The volunteer sign in leader was an eleven year old girl.  She would quickly become my greatest inspiration of the day.  After helping me get suited up with a name tag, she sent me on my way to get some training from Pam or Monty.  Unable to find them in my first sweep, the girl suggested I just get to work.

And so I did.  Coffee spill clean up and an overflowing garbage can quickly got me promoted to unpacking stuffed animals.  From there, I was able to personally assist a woman on crutches (having to wait a very long time for a much needed surgery) who was shopping for her four children.  At that moment, I thought this person had the hardest time of anyone there that day.  And then I met the next person.  And the next person. 

After an hour or so, I landed what I considered to be the best position on the floor.  I became the gatekeeper, the person who called in the guests from the waiting area (which sadly resembled the line at the DMV- long wait and too bright fluorescent lights) and introduced them to the shopping area.  While I took tremendous joy in calling the guests in by number, it was agony making every other person wait for their turn. 

Aimee's "greatest inspiration of the day"
11 year old Jessie
This is where the 11 year old girl came in.  After a few rounds of calling out numbers, "16, 17, 18!" with an apologetic look to the rest of the crowd, this young woman vacated her sign in post (only after checking to make sure her station was tidied up), and informed me that I needed to improve my delivery. 

"They can't hear you, who taught you to yell?" 

I stared at her blankly. 

"I'll call out the numbers," she announced. 

And so she did, along with another excited friend.  The guests started smiling as she pranced around by the white board, announcing the numbers with delight.  After a few rounds, she took over writing the numbers on the board, telling me to focus on my job on the other side of the wall. 

Within the hour guests were jumping up at the sound of their number.  Several people yelled "bingo!" which made the whole crowd relax a little and smile.  Others did a little dance, shook their yellow shopping slips in the air, or were cheered on by friends and family.  When I led these now smiling faces through the door into the shopping area, most lit up like children walking into the famous over the top toy store, FAO Schwartz.

At some point I stopped being nervous.  I stopped caring that I had worn a sweater that made me look like a little too fancy, and that I rambled when I taught the guests how to use their yellow sheets, or that I had eaten candy and nothing else for lunch.  I was helping people, and it was fun.

Over the course of the evening, hundreds of parents, some carrying babes on their chests or in their bellies, made the pilgrimage through Holly House For Kids.  One pregnant woman was scheduled to deliver her baby daughter on Wednesday via cesarean.  She treated the afternoon of waiting like a last minute spa day away from her kids at home, entertaining guests and volunteers alike.

The fallout.  I sobbed so hard on the drive home that I had to pull over.  I kicked myself for leaving before the last guest had walked through, and for not figuring out a way to help them more.  For the pregnant woman I wanted to bring diapers to her house and fuzzy slippers for her to wear in recovery at the hospital, maybe some chicken pot pie for her kids to eat while mom recovered.  I thought of my own c-section this year and all of the free help I had to care for this tiny single baby while I healed.  And I thought about if my family were to fall on hard times, would people be kind and generous enough to help my daughter have warm shoes and a sparkly gift to open on Christmas?

To the 11 year old girl.  Thank you for teaching me that people who are in a serious struggle don't necessarily want to be met with more seriousness.  Part of what Holly House For Kids does is create an event that fulfills needs but also treats the guests like regular people.  I had been calling folks in like a robot - my only focus had been to make sure that they heard this bullet point list of information.  But the real impact, what made people smile more than finding that perfect toy or book for their child, was breaking down the barrier between those helping and those being helped.  

~ Aimee, first time volunteer at Holly House

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Socks and underwear shortage

As the boxes are being unpacked and sorted at the Holly House event today, we discovered we are very short about 400 pairs NEW socks and underwear for our children. If you want to drop by and bring some, please do! We are at the Meadowdale Middle School gym until 11pm today, and you can even bring them tomorrow during our event.

Stay and volunteer some time, or just drop them off - it will be much appreciated!

Many thanks to our volunteers and local restaurants (like Red Lobster and Urban City Coffee yesterday) for keeping those volunteers fueled this weekend.

Beginning set up (Friday afternoon)
There's lots more to do, and less than 24 hours to go!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Last minute requests

This is the big event weekend! Holly House volunteers are scurrying and bustling, getting a gymnasium transformed into a magical shopping experience for our clients. There are still ways you can help! 

There will be 500 - 700 parents waiting to receive the only Christmas most of their children will receive; while they wait, we like to provide them with a little taste of Christmas - homemade cookies. Can you help? A dozen, 6 dozen, whatever you can do. You will have a part in making this a wonderful shopping experience for our families. Cookie donations can be dropped off at the Meadowdale Middle School gym on Saturday 12/13 from 10am - 8pm.

Please also consider donating your time! We are looking for additional help with clean up/tear down on Sunday 12/14 from 8pm-1am. It goes much faster with more people!

If you are interested in helping Sunday night (or any other time over the weekend), please fill out a volunteer profile form and we will contact you.

We cannot put on this event without amazing volunteers and donations - we are 100% reliant on both! Believe it or not, as the set up is happening this weekend, plans are already being made for our 2015 event - fundraising, donation drives, and more. There are lots of ways to get involved in bringing Christmas to these children.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Holly House is gearing up!

We are busy gearing up for the Holly House event weekend in December. Check back soon for updates! If you are interested in volunteering, please visit the link to sign up!

In the meantime, consider re-visiting this post from January which explains just how important Holly House is to our clients.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Update from PF Chang's fundraiser

We are happy to share that we raised over $1800 in partnership with Alderwood PF Chang's this past month. Thank you to everyone who came out to dine with Holly House on September 24th! This was our first time working with PF Chang's, and we were impressed by their hospitality and dedication to our fundraiser. Their staff dressed up as popular characters, as well as hosted the raffle of donations we gathered. Were you one of our raffle winners??

We are grateful that Princesses Elsa and Anna were able to come and join in all the fun. The little girls, dressed up in their princess outfits, were star struck as they met their favorite princesses.  Thank you to all of the volunteers who helped organize the raffle, sell tickets, promote, and greet people during the event.

With your help, we came very close to our goal of $2,000. We appreciate your ongoing support as we continue to raise funds to support our mission to help 2000 low income children in 15 schools in the Edmonds School District. We are fully funded by donations and grants, and can't do it without YOU!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Invite to PF Chang's fundraiser

If you're like me, you need everything written down to remember it all! Click on this link to add yourself to the facebook event for our PF Chang's Fundraiser 9/23 from 11am - 10pm. 

Part of the wonderful staff from PF Changs in front of the newly decorated horse outside
PF Chang's is donating 20% of their daily sales for ONE DAY only to Holly House. See characters in costume throughout the day: Moglie, Ariel, Peter Pan, Jasmine through out the day and Princesses Anna and Elsa from 4:00p - 8:30p. Plus, there will be raffles for many great gift baskets.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

PF Chang's Fundraiser Sept 23rd, 2014

Please come and eat with us on Sept 23rd 
and support Holly House! 

PF Chang's is donating 20% of their sales and hosting a raffle for some fabulous gift baskets that have been donated by Holly House supporters. This is an easy way to help fund our operating costs - all you need to do is enjoy some delicious food with your friends and family on Tuesday 9/23! Also, come in the week before to view the gift baskets and enter for your chance to win!

PF Chang's Alderwood Mall, Lynnwood WA
Tuesday September 23rd, 2014
11 am - 10 pm

Princesses Anna and Elsa will be visiting from 4pm to 8pm!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

August 2014 Update from Holly House

Where has the summer gone? Already it is nearing the end of August, and we are well under way for getting things ready for our event in December ...but still lots of work left to do! Here are some highlights from the month, and ways you can help.

Dropping new underwear in the collection bin, thank you!
We were privileged to be invited to have a non-profit booth at the Lynnwood Farmers Market last week. We were lucky to have Princesses Anna and Elsa come to visit with the children and help us collect new socks and underwear, and spread the word about the work that we do for the 2000 low income children in the Edmonds School District.

Don't worry if you missed us this time around! We collect donations YEAR ROUND! Feel free to drop them off at Armadillo Storage on Hwy 99 in Edmonds (Tues - Sat, 9:30-5:30).

A huge thank you to Marielle Harrington and her staff at Lynnwood Parks and Rec for inviting us

We received an anonymous donation of 1600 Pearl Jam t-shirts from their 2013 tour. Some kids are surely going to appreciate those!

We had a great shoe sorting party, and got through 1500 pairs of shoes that were donated by Redeeming Soles. Thanks to the Director, Jessica for the generous donation and help!

Thank you to the Westgate Chapel for letting us have your remaining garage sale items. Our families struggle to put food on the table. Seldom do they get to buy things we take for granted - A picture for their living room, a beautiful serving bowl, a floral arrangement, a blender, some tools...things that enhance and make our lives just a little easier, that bring smiles to our faces or just make our environment pleasant.Thank you for being so generous to us Westgate Chapel and thank you Christine Deasy for all your help that day.
Some examples of items we received from Westgate Chapel
We were given access to collect unsold items from the Northshore Senior Center rummage sale. This was a great gesture, and really helps us supplement our families' gifts - they are able to take home 20-30 gently used items. This is a great thing for the parents who often go without so that they can provide necessities for their children.  Unfortunately, due to lack of enough volunteers, we left many items behind that we weren't able to pack and haul with us. PLEASE CONSIDER VOLUNTEERING at these one day events - even a few hours helps! 

Want to be on the gala/fundraising committee? We are looking for energetic, well organized people to help us plan our first ever gala event March 7, 2015! If you are interested in helping please contact Pam at 425-673-0526. 

Getting clothes sorted for the
Holly House event in December
We are having another clothing sorting party Monday August 25th from 6-9pm at Armadillo Storage. If you can make it please RSVP to Pam above or contact us using the "contact us" button on the right! 
If you are looking for ways to help in your local community, please consider volunteering with Holly House, or making a financial donation. All donations are tax deductible. Use the links at the side of the page to get more information. 

Thank you to all of the volunteers who have helped keep Holly House going. 
~ Pam Martinez, Executive Director

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Holly House has a dilemma....A good dilemma, but one nevertheless

Do you have connections that might be able to help us find and secure a storage solution for Holly House? Unused warehouse space that could be donated? A church? School? A Realtor connection?  An unused storage unit? 

A work group in the midst of a cramped storage unit
We are currently brainstorming solutions to our storage dilemma! The good news is we have lots of donations coming to us for our kids. The bad news is we are out of places to store them until the event in December.

Each year, we work to accumulate items for our families (toys, books, pajamas, stocking stuffers, socks/underwear, coats, and shoes, plus gently used household items). This has to happen throughout the year in order to get it sorted, organized, and planned for distribution at the Holly House event that takes place the first part of December.

We have a couple of donated storage units at Armadillo Storage in Edmonds, but they are just too small. Each year we seem to have a "just in the nick of time" solution that comes by the grace of God, but we are desperate for a permanent solution. And, in fact, are in need of a solution through the end of 2014 at a minimum. 

Sorting PJs outside of the storage units - no rain this time!
If you have been to a Holly House sorting event, you know that we work (in sometimes less than perfect weather conditions) outside the storage units and then have to pack the unit "Tetris style" to make everything fit, push the boxes to the back, and bring the door down before they come exploding out. 

We would love to have a place that can handle incoming donations (drop-off location), pallet deliveries (from large distributors), a place to sort and organize these donations, PLUS a place to store them. Perhaps this is multiple locations until we are able to get a warehouse of our own. Right now we are open to ideas!!! Our dream is to one day have a place that houses the items and then serves as the distribution center. We are taking baby steps...or maybe giant steps?

Please share your ideas and/or leads with us. Your gift of your time and energy in making this happen is truly appreciated. 

You can contact Pam Martinez at 425-673-1578 or via the blog's contact “us” button. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Holly House Summer 2014 Update

Holly House volunteers are busy year-round getting things ready for the event in December that helps 2000 low income children in the Edmonds School District. We are always looking for volunteers and other ways we can meet the needs of Holly House (fundraiser ideas, collection bins, etc). If you are available to help or have some ideas, please contact us using the button to the right!

Here's a look at what is going on this summer:
  • Planning is commencing for our 2015 Fundraiser Gala event. If you'd like to be part of the planning committee, we would love your help! Our first meeting will be 7/23/14 - see Volunteer link for more details. 
  • The Mountlake Terrace knitting group at work
  •  Garage sale donations needed – Christmas, household, and kitchen items.  By gathering items that might otherwise go to Goodwill or Salvation Army, we can provide (for free) our families 15-20 gently used items to help supplement their households.
  • The Mountlake Terrace Senior Center knitting group is busy making scarves and hats for the children. We acquired some adorable hats for our Holly House kids and needed scarves to match. Thank you all for taking the time out of your knitting group to make sure the kids have matching hats and scarves this winter. They are adorable and the kids will be the "cats meow" when they wear them. Oops, I think I just dated myself...
Here are some of our current volunteer opportunities. Also see the Volunteer page to learn more! 
  • We are still in need of a warehouse manager to help facilitate effective storage solutions for the donations we receive year-round. 
  • We are in need of volunteers to help sort/organize/pack/move donations 
  • We are in need of volunteers to pick up donations from collection bins throughout the year. 
A big THANK YOU to:
Thank you to our volunteers who have helped us these past 7 months of 2014 already, we can't do it without you!
Volunteers helping pick up the shoe donation
Thank you to Redeeming Soles for a giant shoe donation of 1500 pairs of shoes! These shoes may be just what a fast-growing child needs this winter and we are so happy to have them to distribute.

Work party with Target employees
Thank you to employees from the Lynnwood and Everett Target stores who helped us sort and re-pack the storage unit at a June work party.

Thank you to Run to Win for donating sports camp scholarships for our kids. This camp provides a week of sports related activities, and our kids can go for FREE this summer!

There you have our summer update. We have many more activities and plans in the works, stay tuned! Please contact us if you are looking for ways to get involved - even a few hours can make a huge difference.
~ Pam Martinez, Executive Director

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Fundraiser update - it's not too late to show your support!

We had a successful fundraiser this past Tuesday, raising over $1000 for Holly House. We are working hard to keep up with the demand, and all of the funds will go towards ensuring this program continues for the low-income families in Edmonds School District. 

Two of our clients, Maria & Rachel, shared touching stories of what Holly House has meant to them and their children.

Rachel sharing her story
Maria talked about how hard she works to take care of her two little girls but it’s such a struggle, especially during the holidays. Without Holly House her children would have gone without.

Rachel shared that because of Holly House her family is able to keep up with their holiday traditions, even though throughout the year they struggle to make ends meet due to disabilities and injuries.

"My kids are old enough to question Santa Claus because other kids tell them he's not real. But I can tell you that on Christmas morning when they see what's under the tree, they believe."

 Instead of just new and much needed clothes for school, they are able to get things from their wish lists that the parents can select from Holly House.

Donors ready to help
In order to provide the joy of gift giving (and also some necessities like socks, underwear, and pajamas), we need your support.

Our operational costs are only 8% of our total $500,000 budget. Can you help us keep Holly House running smoothly and help out 2000 kids served in 15 Edmonds Schools? Our goal is to be able to support all 43 local schools, giving any family who requests it the joy of the holidays - without worry of meeting their household needs at the same time.

You can donate online by clicking the DONATE button on the right side of the screen, or you can mail a check to:
Holly House/Protocol Foundation
17561 110th Lane SE
Renton, WA 98055
(All donations are fully tax deductible. Protocol Foundation is our fiscal sponsor and is a 501(c)3 charity.)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Holly House Fundraiser 5/27/14

We invite you to attend our first ever fundraiser for Holly House! As our charity has grown, so have our operational costs. We rely 100% on donations and grants to fund this program which reaches 2000 children in the local Edmonds School District. Please come learn more about our program, our goals, our needs, and ways that you can help. These children need a hero in their life - could it be YOU?

Join us Tuesday 5/27 from 7-9pm for appetizers, wine, and dessert at Madison Alderwood Park Apartments Clubhouse (18031 36th Ave W, Lynnwood). RSVP to Pam Martinez 425-435-1403 or

Friday, May 2, 2014

Edmonds School Board meeting

Alicia and Pam attended the latest Edmonds School District Board meeting and presented our slideshow as well as fielded questions. The goal was to spread the word about Holly House and gain support from the District for the program that services children who attend there. It was highly successful, and we look forward to working with the district more closely.

My Edmonds News reported on the meeting, mentioning Holly House as well as the other topics discussed at the meeting. Another topic of interest to those with school age children is the push for healthy options in vending machines. You can see the article here.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Slide Show presentation - Holly House overview

Last week, we had our first "Learn about Holly House event" and met some wonderful people who are excited to help with Holly House. We explained our mission, with the help of the presentation below, and wanted to share it with everyone who couldn't make it. One of our past clients shared her story and it was very moving to hear how Holly House has helped her, and now she is giving back.  

Four years ago she wasn't sure how she was going to take care of her two little girls. Unforeseen circumstances had placed her in a place of great need and she didn't know where to turn.With tears she began to talk about finding Holly House, the help she received and how it has led her to volunteer for the last 3 years and to bringing other volunteers with her.

It was a moving and humbling story for those of us listening. How so little, a coat, some socks & underwear, a pair of pajamas, a few toys and books did so much to turn a family around.

Volunteer opportunities are plentiful, and it takes a lot of work year round to get the one day event pulled off for these low income families. Please join us - from collecting and/or donations, small tasks, unloading a truck or two, or larger responsibilities like a warehouse manager, we have somewhere you will fit in.

(use the buttons at the bottom of the slideshow to view the slideshow)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Informational Open House 4/21

Holly House is hosting an informational open house and meet and greet on Monday 4/21. Come and learn about our work, the team of volunteers, and how you might be able to help. We have so many opportunities to volunteer (big and small) - maybe something will call to you.

Please join us 4/21 at 7pm at the Clubhouse at Madison Alderwood Park apartments.

Sock and Underwear drive results

Holly House collected 675 socks and underwear during our sock and underwear drive at Fred Meyer's on 196th in Lynnwood. Thank you to Fred Meyer, the Manager, David, the wonderful teenagers who gave of their time, energy and charm and for all of the people who donated to our kids. We are well on our way to making sure our kids get what they need.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sock and underwear drive under way

The children that we support are in need of necessities, in addition to the gifts that make their holidays a little more special. We give them each new pajamas, socks and underwear.

To support this goal, we need a GIANT pile of new basic necessities. It amounts to 5000 pairs of underwear, and 5000 pairs of socks.

Mark, Michelle, and George: Volunteers helping to promote and gather socks & underwear at Fred Meyers
We have drives under way right now at Fred Meyer on 196th in Lynnwood and Spartas Pizza on Hwy 99. We are so grateful for their support! These locations will be collecting sock and underwear donations through Sunday 3/29. You can also drop them off at our normal year round drop off locations.

Mark and George have been looking for ways to help their community and have become more active with Holly House this year. They were courteous and energetic and encouraged customers to participate in the drive at Fred Meyers. We're so glad they are part of the team! You can read a full write up about their experience at Lynnwood Today.

Ways you can help:
  • Consider hosting your own drive between your friends and family!  
  • Drop some socks and underwear off at our drop box locations
  • Click the "donate" button on the blog to contribute funds we can use to purchase some to fill in what we didn't collect

Friday, February 28, 2014

The year-long Holly House timeline

You may wonder what it takes to get everything we need for our 2000 children at the Holly House event in December...well, it takes lots of planning, storage, and donations!! Here's a graphic showing the things that happen throughout the year to gather thousands of toys, pajamas, socks, underwear, books, and so much more.
Click to enlarge

But, we can't do it without a LOT of volunteers! Won't you consider hosting a stuffed animal drive with your friends, or maybe ask them to bring socks and underwear to a social event? Please see our Volunteer page for ideas on how to help, and for a listing of open volunteer positions.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Pajama Sorting Party update

We had an amazing turnout for our big pajama sorting party this past weekend. Thank you to the 22 incredibly hard working volunteers who came to unwrap, size/sort, re-package, and move 2100 pairs of pajamas!

The night started with a small hiccup with the van (which was filled to the brim with pajamas) not starting - but quick work to move all of the boxes to a different vehicle enabled Pam to get to the storage facility just a few minutes late. Everyone jumped on board to get things set up. Phyllis 'conducted' what became a symphony of workers.

Two truckloads of sorted pajamas were moved to a different storage facility during the party, and the rest were moved about 8:45 once everything was complete - including clean up! It could not have gone more smoothly and would definitely taken much longer had we been short some
helpers. These sorted pajamas will now be ready to display for our December Holly House event.

The 2100 pajamas came to us from a very generous donation. Most of them were sized infant to 5T (and mostly for girls), so we look forward to being able to fill in the gaps for older kids and the boys throughout the year with more donations. Our goal is go give every one of our 2000 children two pairs of warm pajamas this year - one to wear and one for the wash.

Thank you to Molina Health Care, Wells Fargo Bank, Kohl's, the Mountlake Terrace Senior Center, Windemere, kids and teachers from several of our schools, pizza from Garlic Jim's and of course, our Holly House Team for a job well done.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Partnering with Wells Fargo

Sarah Darrah (Wells Fargo Store Manager) and Rakhi Samant (Wells Fargo District Manager) are presenting the pony named Shamrock to CJ Gray (Cedar Valley Principal),  Allison Kaufman (Cedar Valley office Manager), Nancy Sutherland (Edmonds School District Nurse), and Taira Rink (one of the 3rd Grade Teachers at Cedar Valley Community School).

Holly House has some wonderful partners who help us along our journey, and Wells Fargo is one of them. Recently, they donated a large stuffed pony to us, and we wanted to find the best home for him. We reached out to Cedar Valley Elementary (one of the 15 schools we support), and came up with a way to get him to a deserving student.

The folks from Wells Fargo met with Cedar Valley staff a couple of weeks ago and presented them with the pony. The school is going to use it as an incentive for an academic program.

Even Shamrock the pony has 12th man spirit!
We are happy to be able to connect these two very important organizations together, and thank Wells Fargo for their generous and ongoing support.

Look how they have involved Shamrock in their school spirit already!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Available now: Donate via the blog

Our warehouse space is shrinking and our potential for getting more goods is growing!!

We got a pallet of toys donated to, where to put it??
We are in dire need of a permanent storage solution for Holly House. Currently we have three small storage spaces (not all together), and when we get a large shipment of items it requires serious logistics to get everything to fit (and we have limited space for people to help). If you know of any open retail, warehouse, or storage spaces that would be looking to donate space to help our cause, please get them in touch with us! In addition, monetary funds donated to Holly House could go to help pay for more storage space.

A small example of what we COULD get, if we had the funds
We have an incredible opportunity to get a FREE truckload of toys from a partner organization. All they ask is that we cover the freight charges (a container truck from New York), at a discounted rate. This amounts to about $3,000 - which we don't currently have. The ability to get these toys would be a huge boost for us this year. (We have already received one pallet of toys from them, see photos! They have so much more to offer us than this.)

In order to get the best deals and get things arranged for the end of they year, the process starts now. Please consider donating year round to Holly House and help get us set up for December.

You may now process donations directly from the blog! Find the "Donate Now" button on the right side of the screen. Your payment will be processed securely through Paypal. (Our fiscal sponsor, MS Helping Hands, shows as the Paypal account.) 

Volunteers Jonathan and Jeff helping to sort toys and re-arrange our storage space to make room

Thank you for your support!!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Holly's THAT important

At a recent team member meeting, we recounted the "feel good" moments of the Holly house event. It reminded us why we do this, and that we are doing it for the kids. It gave us a boost...after all of the energy had been poured into countless hours throughout the year, but especially those 3 days of set up and the event itself. Are we ready to do it again? The resounding answer was YES.

One of the toy areas - Photo copyright by Bob Adams
The vision of Pam Martinez, Director, is that Holly house is a magical place for these families. It's a place for fun, where they are respected and maintain dignity. They don't see "behind the curtain". They don't know what it takes to get that gymnasium to look like it had been there for weeks - and they shouldn't. When they arrive, some of them have tears of joy streaming down their faces. "This is all for us?" one of them was overheard saying.

Is Holly House important to these families? Absolutely. This event provides families with necessities as well as gifts for the holidays (which may be the only gifts these children receive). When families have to choose between heat, food, and extra things during the holidays, food and heat always win.

A volunteer accompanies a mother while shopping
A shopping escort helps each family through Holly House, carrying their bags, providing companionship, and making sure they understand where to go and what to do. This is a personalized shopping experience for the parents. They get to hand pick and tailor the gifts for each one of their children.

One woman waited patiently for her turn to enter Holly House. It became apparent that she was in active labor, with contractions about 9 minutes apart. While she shopped for the 6 children on her list, she breathed through the pain, yet continued on. As she left with a full heart, she mentioned that her water had just broken. Imagine her relief as she could head to the hospital knowing that Christmas was taken care of for her family.

We had a shortage of volunteers to escort families this year. At one point, this put our schedule behind by an hour. Our Program Manager alerted the families in the waiting area that we were doing the best we could. Another hour gone by, now about 2 hours behind, he sheepishly went to the waiting area again to update them. When he mentioned the volunteers we were lacking, several people looked expectantly at him, and he ventured "...unless any of you would like to help?" About 5 people raised their hands immediately. Another 20 soon joined the ranks.

After a short orientation, these people gave up their place in line and helped others through Holly House, then got back in line. One man, after seeing his wife had come through and received things for their family, sent her home yet continued to volunteer until Holly House closed down. His parting words to the Program Manager was that this opportunity was "the best Christmas present he had ever received".

The impact that Holly House makes on these families is great. We couldn't do it without our donors, volunteers, sponsors, and team members. We are grateful and blessed to be able to do what we can, and hopeful we can continue to expand Holly House with your help. 

Photo copyright by Bob Adams

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Be on the lookout for deals!

Running a non-profit that supplies necessities and toys to children requires a lot of in-kind donations, but it also requires that we do some shopping from time to time to fill in the gaps. Recently, Pam Martinez, Director, suggested that we all be on the lookout for 80-90% off clearance deals on socks, toys, pajamas, and underwear, especially after the holidays and during season changeovers. This type of deep discount helps us spend the few funds that we have in the most effective way. Imagine...getting $1000 worth of items for only $100!! This is what we dream of!

One of our team members, Deby, was on high alert and noticed 80% off bins at Michael's on her way to the checkstands. She was there purchasing items for her 2nd grade classroom. She says, "I asked a clerk nearby how much they were and I was shocked! The socks were 20 cents a pair and the hats $1 - - but as a teacher I get another 15% off. I was going to get a few for Holly House but then thought I should call Pam....needless to say, we BOUGHT EVERYTHING! So...for $350 I got 261 pairs of socks and about 325 hats!!"

Last night, her husband (and Holly House team member), Tom had his own "sorting party" while she worked on her lesson plans for school. Wow, what a gift from above for our kids!!

If you would like to help fund purchases like this (or even put money towards THIS purchase!) you can easily donate through our Donate Now button now on the blog.

If you are a bargain hunter and scout amazing deals like this, please contact Pam and let her know right away! She's been known to drop everything and fill her van with clearance items when alerted to deals like this and we have the funds to purchase them. (Please be advised, all purchases should be made by Pam or pre-approved, unless you are donating the items personally. You will not be reimbursed by Holly House without prior approval).


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