Christmas House opens Thursday, Dec. 5
EVERETT - Hundreds of parents huddled outside the Everett Boys and Girls Club this week to ensure their children have a good Christmas.
They were waiting in line for Christmas House, a free store for low-income families to shop for Christmas gifts.
Christmas House collects new toys and distributes them to low-income families in Snohomish County. Christmas House opens the morning of Thursday, Dec. 5 at the Everett Boys and Girls Club, 2316 12th St. Christmas House is open on various days through Dec. 21. Each family gets one small toy, one large toy, a small piece of clothing, such as a hat or scarf, and a large piece of clothing for each child.
The idea was simple when Roy Fraser started Christmas House out of his garage in 1981. He and his family gave away mostly handmade and refurbished used toys to families in need. They served more than 100 children the first year, Christmas House spokesman Larry Lark said. Fraser unfortunately did not live to see Christmas House work the following year. Christmas House grew steadily over the next three decades and today a dedicated group of volunteers are keeping Fraser’s vision alive.
Last year, the nonprofit provided toys and clothing to 9,360 children from 3,345 Snohomish County families. More than 400 homeless children received toys and clothing.
Donations come from all over. Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop, for example, refurbished children’s bicycles for Christmas House, like it does every year.
Christmas House will be open Dec. 5-7, Dec. 10-14 and Dec. 17-21. The shop is open Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Christmas House has a few rules, but volunteers are strictest about not allowing children or infants in the building. The reason is because the parents are supposed to surprise their children with the gifts they picked out.
To shop, you must be a Snohomish County resident earning 150 percent below the federal poverty line, which for a family of three means earning less than $29,295 a year, or about $536.37 a week. You must bring photo ID, bring proof you are the legal custodian of every child you are shopping for and bring proof of your income.
Christmas House welcomes new, unwrapped donations through Tuesday, Dec. 17 at its home base at the Everett Boys and Girls Club, 2316 12th St. Each Everett fire station also is collecting toys for Christmas House, and donation bins are in various stores.
The group especially can use volunteers to set up Christmas House from Saturday, Nov. 30 through Wednesday, Dec. 4, Lark said.
Christmas House is 100 percent volunteer-run. Cash donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 717, Everett, WA 98206. For a list of places where you can drop off new toys, or to volunteer, leave a message at 425-338-2273 or go online to www.christmas-house.org.
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