Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Holly House 2015 3 day event was a huge success

We did it! Holly House 2015 was a HUGE success - the best we've ever had (yes, every year keeps getting better and better). One of our clients shared from the heart, "Thank you for saving our Christmas. We couldn't have done it without you. All of the volunteers who assisted me were wonderful. I'm so very thankful that there are still groups and organizations out there."  ~ Grace Marie, Holly House 2015 Client  In addition to meeting our goal of serving over 1,800 low-income children in the Edmonds School district and giving them the joy of Christmas (plus necessities), we had tremendous support from the community.

We began by being granted use of a giant retail space (FOR FREE) from Development Services of America and their wonderful representative, Jayme Bartholomew. Then set up began Thursday and continued through Saturday night. Clients came to shop on Sunday and left with arms full of gifts and necessities for each of their children. Logistically, it was the smoothest event to date: with staggered start times for each school, we ran on time until just the close of the day, and clean up ran smoothly and on time. THANK YOU to each of the volunteers who helped to make this happen, many returning each day for more work. A note from one of our volunteers: It's always so amazing to see how Holly House comes together on the event day. A big empty space transposed from a room full of boxes being organized into a beautiful gift giving display for our families! - Ingrid

Here are just some of the highlights.
Families shopping at the hats and scarves booth
  • Over 1,800 children supported during our 2015 Holly House event.
  • We had over 540 volunteers, a portion of them children (more volunteers than last year!)
  • We had event sponsors this year to help cover costs (Thank you to: Technical Systems, Inc., Edmonds Daybreak Rotary, Lynnwood Rotary, Christian Davis, Windermere Foundation, S AL Wilcox American Legion, Absolute Mortgage, Golden Insurance LLC, Aramark, U Haul, Lowes, S.W. Feldt Construction, Steve Esola, Greenhaus Portable Restrooms, and Development Services of America.)
  • We had over 25 groups donate their time and resources, including Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, sports teams, Rotary clubs, and business groups. 
  • After unpacking 30 pallets of toys donated from a toy company, we realized 90% of the toys were for boys. A plea went out via social media, and the girl toys poured in from the community.
  • Just before the event, we discovered that a grant for books that we received for 7,000 books would not reach us in time to give them out during the Holly House event. We canceled the grant and did another appeal to our community of giving and caring people. The outpouring of donations on short notice was incredible, and the kids received books. 
  • One group of volunteers during set up
  • Local schools and businesses held toy and sock/underwear/PJ drives for us and delivered their donations Friday and Saturday, boosting our inventory substantially while at the same time eliminating our need for storage of those items. 
  • Our supply of teen donations was better this year than in past years (partly due to the large corporate donations of toys for younger children, so we could focus procurement on older kid gifts). The overall burden of providing for their family at the holiday is lifted when at least part of their family can be fully supported by Holly House measures.
  • Community members baked homemade cookies for the clients to enjoy while they awaited their entry in to Holly House. 
  • Quite a few clients pay forward their shopping experience, and become volunteers for our event and throughout the year. This event is so important for many of our families, and we are pleased that they choose to give back. 
  • Thank you to the local restaurants who provided food for the volunteers over the 3 days and to Urban City Coffee for providing coffee and cocoa to the clients

In addition to our volunteers and donors, we also give a BIG thank you to the many schools, service groups, local businesses, scout troops, churches, banks, mortgage companies, dental offices, preschools, health care companies, and book stores who gave so much to Holly House in 2015. Whether it was time, gifts, and/or financial contributions, we can't do it without all of you. We look forward to next year! 

Please take some time and visit our Facebook page to view all of the photos from the event and get a bigger picture of how this event takes shape: Holly House Year 9 album

My Edmonds News ran an article about our event which you can read here.

Volunteers at the toy booth

Please join us March 5th, 2016 for our 2nd annual fundraiser Gala, or if you can’t come please make a donation in support of our efforts. We are doing a “Mardi Gras - The Queen and Her Court” theme. Those of you who came last year to our “Alice in Wonderland” themed auction know how much fun it was. This year will be packed with even more fun and it’s a great way to support our ongoing efforts to provide for our kids.

We would like to extend a special thank you to the core volunteer group, booth managers, and their teams for the 2015 event:

Stuffed Animals: Neil Heineman

Hats & Scarves: Leslie Smith

Stockings: Janine Kirkpatrick
Toy Booth: Amy Hart, Katy Johnson, Bobbi Cacatian, Jean King
Socks/Underwear: Rylie Carter
Pajamas: Karen Orstad
Books: Ilene Jaffe, Deby Comfort, Tom Comfort
Volunteer Coordinator: Monty Reed
Registrar: Alicia Carter
Volunteer Desk: Jessie Shull
Door Guard: Errah Jurus
Site Manager: Alicia Carter
Site Coordinator: Milt Cruver
Food Coordinator: Robin Downie
Cookie Coordinator: Karen Orstad
Load up/Take down crew: Milt Cruver
Baggage Claim: Ingrid Adams
Logistics/Trucks: Nick Aldrich
Logistics/Pam's Assistant: Maria Skelton
Program Assistant: Jen Winckler
Executive Director: Pam Martinez

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Volunteer Spotlight: Milt Cruver

Thank you Milt!
We would like to introduce you to one of the volunteers at Holly House who does so much for us behind the scenes. Milt Cruver signed up to be a volunteer just before our 2014 Holly House event, but we didn't know the extent of his abilities or his dedication until after that event. Since then, he has been a go-to person for our Director and our program. He is a go-getter, and a doer; he has never ending energy, and a drive that will inspire you.

Some of Milt's contributions to Holly House include: picking up and sorting donations all year long for us whenever he's called upon, disposing of all of our recycling, procured donations for our 2015 Gala (the Ride with a Cop and Swim Party), procured items for our 2015 event (2 refrigerators, curtains, carts and plastic from Lowe's, and a trailer truck from U Haul), covered the windows with wrapping paper, and so much more. Most notably, he led the tear down of the 2015 event, and it was the smoothest it's ever been - the site was left in immaculate condition.

Covering the site windows with wrapping paper
The most rewarding thing he has found volunteering with Holly House has been seeing family members of the children we serve become volunteers themselves for Holly House in their free time. They may not be able to afford some items for their children, but they have time and can sort, collect, or work the event set up or shopping day. Knowing they don't have to volunteer but they do it because Holly House has touched them is something that proves the work we do is so valuable.

When he is not living in Arizona or traveling with his wife, he lives here in WA to help his son's family by babysitting 2 of his grandchildren (his daughter-in-law is an elementary school teacher, so they come for the school year). Holly House is something else he takes part in while he is in WA, and he says he volunteers "...for the children. Without Holly House, 2,000 children wouldn't get what they need; socks, pajamas, books, underwear, and even toys at Christmas". He learned of our program through his other grandchildren's school, who attend an Edmonds School District school. He has 3 children of his own, and 4 grandchildren.

Hard at work!
Milt is a 20 year Marine Veteran, and also spent 15 years in local law enforcement - and he has a lot of experience in the volunteer world. While in AZ, he also volunteers with Toys for Tots, Home For Our Troops, and their local VFW #7400. What amazing organizations he has chosen to support, and we are proud to be one of them. Thank you Milt! With parents who served in the military, he was taught from a young age "service above self" - and this is apparent with his efforts to help people in need when he finds them.

When asked what he would like people to know about Holly House, he said "Like other non-profits we are able to get donations of materials (eg. Carters, Mattel), but it also takes funding to run the operation. The day to day takes money. If I had to ask for one thing from the public, it would be a lead for a full time facility where we can collect, sort, and have a drop off location. Right now we are working out of 4 storage units and they are insufficient for what we get by the end of the year (in addition to sorting items outside in the driveway). A 5-6000 sq. ft. store front either donated or leased at a great discount would be ideal."


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