The spirit of the season was in full swing on Sunday at Meadowdale Middle School, as Lynnwood-based Holly House and its merry band of volunteers brightened the holidays for hundreds of families in need.
Holly House Executive director Pam Martinez, who started her annual charity event seven years ago, has seen the need grow so much that this year more than 2,300 children benefited, and some families had to be turned away.
Sunday’s event served families from 15 schools in the Edmonds School District. Registration slips were sent home to parents or guardians of low-income students, who then presented a confirmation slip during the day, which began at 8 a.m.
Toys, books, socks, bikes, stockings, coats and stuffed animals were just a few of the new and gently used items available, and all were free for parents and guardians to pick up for all their kids, from infants up to age 17.
“When I was little, God told me I was going to do something good,” said Martinez. “I am just humbled when I see what He has led me to do.” And Martinez does a lot, as she and her more than 300 volunteers work year-round for one big day, collecting donations, shopping, holding sorting parties and spending two days on set up.
“It’s the joy of season, giving of your time,” said second-year volunteer Sarah Enos. Last year, she brought food, donated by Lynnwood’s Sparta’s Pizza & Spaghetti House where she works, to be served to volunteers. She said she knew she wanted to help this year. She’s now in charge of Sparta’s annual toy drive for Holly House.
Holly House has served Maria Skelton-Grover and her family for three years. This year, she also decided she was also going to volunteer. “I feel good coming in and doing this, and I’ve brought people here from my work to volunteer as well. It puts me in the Christmas spirit, and it feels good to know I can come here when I need it.”
Meadowdale High School senior Logan Carter spent more than 25 hours helping Holly House for his senior project. “It feels great to be able to help,” he said.
Those interested in donating or volunteering for Holly House in 2014 can email Martinez at email@example.com or call 425-422-1092.
– Story and photos by Brian Soergel