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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