Thursday, October 29, 2015

Holly House: Fall Update 2015

Volunteers at a prior event - will this be you this December?
We are starting to really ramp up our activities for our 3 day event in December. There has been a lot going on behind the scenes, and there will be a lot coming up! Stay tuned for volunteer requests and details about our shopping event the weekend of Dec 11th. Be sure you're on our email list so we can inform you of the site and volunteer details for the event by filling out our form on the volunteer profile page.

Here are some updates from Pam, our Executive Director:
  • We are broadcasting our very first ever year-end plea for financial support for Holly House. Our operational funds are in the negative.

    Please consider giving a monthly donation of $10, $15, $20 or a one time donation (or partner up with your company!). We need to be able to keep our lights on so we can continue to help our children with gifts and necessities.Holly House cannot continue without your support - Our children need your help! 
  • We are searching for an underwriter(s) for our 3 day event - this person or business would cover costs such as location rental fee, table rentals, chairs, etc. and in return their name(s) would be displayed at the event. Estimated costs are $2500. See our Sponsor page for more details. 
  • homemade cookies needed!
    Homemade cookies needed!
  • Our official website has been launched! Visit us at Thank you to Eric Cruthird and Jen Winckler for getting this up and running. 
  • We are beginning to sign people up to bake homemade cookies for our clients waiting in line to enter Holly House to shop for free for their children. Please contact Karen at to help. 
  • Donations are rolling in for our kids, including 30 pallets of new toys from one of our donors and 4 vanloads of toys from another donor. Thank you!!! 
    Drives are under way
    Drives are under way
  • We have begun pajama, sock, underwear, sports equipment, and stocking stuffer drives. If you, your business, or organization would like to host a drive or drop box, please contact us! Neighborhood schools have also begun organizing drives. Our teens historically are most under-served by Holly House, and we are pushing to get an abundance of items for them this year. If you can't host a drive but still want to donate items, we are collecting them now
  • Our Macaroni Grill Fundraiser was a huge success, thank you to everyone who came out to support us. We don't have final numbers yet, but we do know that sales for their typical Tuesday increased greatly because of our event. 
  • All of the paperwork has been submitted to the IRS and we are awaiting final approval for our 501(c)(3) status. This means we would no longer need a fiscal sponsor and will be our own entity. We are currently still interviewing for additional Board members.
  • We love your trick or treat leftovers
    We love your Trick or Treat leftovers 
  • We will have a Volunteer Handbook for all volunteers helping with the 3 day event this year. Thank you to Dominic Aldridge for your offer to help with this huge task! 
  • We accept Halloween candy to use in stockings! Donate any unwanted candy to the kids of Holly House. 

  • We are so excited about our wishlist - you can go to the wishlist, select gifts and necessities for our kids, and the items will be shipped directly to us. This link is also listed on our website. 
    click to visit our wishlist!
Thank you for your continued support of Holly House and our kids. We could not do Holly House without all of you!

Pam Martinez

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Volunteer Spotlight: Cindy Goodman

Here is Cindy at a PJ sorting event
One of our dedicated volunteers found us while working with children in 2 of our supported schools. Please meet Cindy Goodman: she sees on a daily basis the struggles that our families are in, and how it affects their children--no jackets, socks, or food can really impact their ability to learn. Not only does she volunteer, but she is a fierce financial supporter.

The impact that volunteering with Holly House has had on her drives her to help in many ways, most recently by procuring items and sponsors for our first ever Gala and auction, and she hopes to continue to find annual sponsors for Holly House.

I think her experience is best told in her own words, which she shared in a letter to Pam about what Holly House means to her:

"For many years, my husband, Greg, has gone out shopping during the holidays to buy toys to donate to various children’s charities and women’s shelters.  When our favorite women’s shelter shut down, he was referred to “Holly House”.  It was always rewarding and simple to donate either toys or money, but I learned that Holly House was also in need of volunteers, which seemed, to me, a much more personal way of giving help and seeing how these charities manage the tremendous need in our community.

I contacted Pam Martinez, who invited me to help with the Holly House holiday “shopping” event for low income families. I was humbled by the incredible number of items available, but mostly with the unbelievable amount of work put into this event and the enthusiasm each volunteer contributed. It was, by far, the best organized event I had seen, with everyone knowing their job and giving hours upon hours of their time to make it work like a well-oiled machine.   Most of all, I was touched by the genuine love and respect that showed on the faces of each volunteer, which is, to me, the most important part of any charity.

As a paraeducator, I see children on a daily basis who come to school with no socks, jackets, boots or gloves in the dead of winter. My first instinct is to bring these items to give them but, due to the pride and/or shame of the parents, we are not allowed to do so (we do provide these items for use while they’re at school, however). At Title I schools, two out of three meals a day are given (to approved students) by the school district, but I knew those kids were getting little to eat when at home, the most needy taking home backpacks of food on the weekends.

At Holly House, these families are given tickets based on their income, and are free to come “shop” for gifts and necessities for their children.  They are among other people who are in their same situation for a multitude of reasons, and they feel much more at ease. Accepting charity is not easy for most people, but through Holly House, the parents can provide their children with toys, pajamas, socks, underwear, dental supplies, stuffed animals, toiletries, hats, scarves and books while being treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

I am a small player in this wonderful program; I have participated in a couple of planning meetings, and donate my time when my schedule allows.  Truckloads of necessities and toys come in from donors, and every item must be sorted and organized for efficient storage until they can be distributed.  The volunteers come from far and wide to get the job done, with shared camaraderie and a sense of purpose.

Pam Martinez is the driving force behind Holly House (along with many volunteers, without whom none of this would be possible).  Pam seems to have had a “calling”, and somehow manages to overcome every obstacle thrown at her. When there is need, she finds a way.  I am honored to know each and every person I’ve met through Holly House, and hope to continue working alongside them to give a hand up to families who need it." 
                               ~ Cindy 

Monday, October 19, 2015

There are still children going without

Dear Friends of Holly House,

We are grateful for all the support you have given Holly House and the many children we serve. Because of your help we have been able to provide Christmas for over 2,000 children.

BUT there are still children out there that are going without. So, with just a little more help, we will be able to reach out to make sure our kids get what they need.

Please take a moment to read and print out our sponsorship packet (628 KB). Give it to your family, friends, and anyone you know who owns or manages a business. Help us spread the word.

Thank you,


Pam Martinez
Holly House Executive Director

Click here to download PDF (628 KB)

Friday, October 9, 2015

How to host a toy drive

We have had a few schools hold toy and pajama drives for us and we thought we'd give you a step-by-step process in the event you wanted to organize one as well! These details can also be used to organize a drive at your workplace or business. Read about of one of the past school drives, and a touching example of student involvement.

Brier Elementary had the support of the
Principal and Student Council
·  Contact Pam Martinez (425-673-0526) and let her know of your plans, discuss details. Plan your drive for the week before the Holly House event to minimize storage issues. 
·  Work with school administration and PTA to make sure they are on board. 
·  Offer your time and support to fully execute the drive; this alleviates any pressure for someone to say "no" since you're volunteering to do the work. 
·  Get some upper grade level students to paint some signs a few weeks before and post them around school. Include it in the PTA newsletter the month/weeks before. 
·  Enlist the help of the student council - they may be able to make daily morning announcements a few days before and the week of the drive. If your school has a Facebook page, use that to post updates and reminders. 
·  Create a project meter or tally (a thermometer goal, or number of boxes collected count, etc). Set a goal of # of boxes filled, or number of items collected, number of students supported, etc. We recommend not offering incentives, but rather help kids feel good about their participation. 
·  Be mindful of the fact that many students at your school may qualify to be a participant in Holly House, and may have nothing to give, but may be very willing to give their time somehow (encouraging participation, making signs, standing in collection zone, etc) 
·  Set up brightly colored (wrapped in holiday paper) boxes in the Office or Library. Make sure they have a sign for when they are unattended. Have someone stand at a box in the drop off/pick up area morning and afternoon, perhaps wearing a funny hat or with a big sign. These are your cheerleaders, friendly faces to help people remember why they are donating. 
School families sorting donations gathered
over the week in a volunteer's garage
·  If the school doesn't have room to store the items (or doesn't want to be responsible), transport the items to a location off site daily, but tally the items so the students can still visually see progress somehow. 
·  Keep in mind that Holly House currently has no permanent storage facility, so it is preferred that you keep the items and deliver them to the Holly House event itself rather than having us find a place to store them. (Someone's garage works well for the week). 
·  Sort the toys - stuffed animals, games, teen gifts, pajamas, etc. Create an inventory to give to Holly House including # of toys and clothing items and estimated value (you can use an average cost!). You do NOT need to inventory each item separately, just a count is fine. 
·  Arrange drop off the morning of the first day of the event. Bring your donation and see what Holly House is all about at the same time. It may take several car-loads if you're successful! Plan to caravan and make an event of it. 
·  Organize members of your school to volunteer for the Holly House event and help to set up for the event and/or work the day of the shopping event, and/or clean up. It's a 3 day project and we need LOTS of hands to move in and out of a gymnasium, while at the same time creating a holiday wonderland for our clients. 

Toy delivery to Holly House - what a good feeling!!

Holly House currently only collects new toys for distribution - sports equipment and teen gifts are especially needed. New pajamas, socks, and underwear are also popular items to collect at drives


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