The first annual Holly House Fundraiser Gala drew a packed house Saturday evening at the Mountlake Terrace Senior Center.
Guests enjoyed appetizers and wine and other drinks, while taking a look at the various items in the silent and live auction up for bid to support the organization, which provides holiday gifts and other necessities to low income children in the Edmonds School District.
The Alice-in-Wonderland themed-event was a labor of love for Holly House director Pam Martinez and other volunteers, who organized Saturday night’s festivities in seven weeks.
“It’s really dear to my heart,” Martinez said of Holly House.
The program started nine years ago when Martinez and her friends were volunteering at the Mountlake Terrace Food Bank. Holly House helped about 240 students that first year and now has grown to serving more than 2,000 students.
“Basically what we do is give Christmas to over 2,000 kids,” said Monty Reed, Holly House Volunteer Coordinator. “We go to a high school gym and we turn it into a Christmas wonderland. Parents come and pick up the things they need.
The three-day event in mid-December includes two days of set-up and then on the third day, a Sunday, parents are able to come and pick up gifts. Some of the items distributed include toys, books, stuff animals, pajamas, coats, tooth brushes, toothpaste, underwear, hats, scarves, stockings, and other gifts and necessities.”
Many of the children go to sleep in houses with no heat so providing pajamas have been an emphasis for Holly House, which hopes to provide two pairs for each child.
“They go to bed cold,” Martinez said “They don’t have pajamas.”
Among those who volunteer for Holly House are high school students, Rotary Club members, Scouts and even former clients. The actual distribution takes three days but Holly House volunteers are busy all year along, holding toy and clothing drives and unloading donations.
“We have volunteer opportunities all year long,” Reed said.
Two clients, who both volunteered for Holly House last year, also spoke during Saturday’s event.
Sandra, a widow with six children, told the audience that most people have been in a situation or knew someone in a situation who was having a hard time. Sandra found herself in a tough situation and thought that her children were not going to have Christmas one year because of her financial struggles. Then one of her children brought home a flyer about Holly House. Sandra decided to go to the event and found herself in line with people at 8 on a Sunday morning.
“I saw the line of people and they were all sharing their stories of hardship,” Sandra said.
When the doors open and she saw the tables and tables of gifts, she thought to herself, “This is all for us. It was amazing. It was overwhelming. I never felt so blessed in my life.”
Another client, Angie, spoke about the relief she felt after being able to provide Christmas gifts for her children.
“I loved seeing my kids’ faces,” she said. “To me it’s very special.”
Angelica also volunteered at Holly House last year and made sure her children knew about the generosity of the community they live in.
Recently, Angelica and her family had to move out of their house and are now living with her mother. The future is a little uncertain, but Angelica knows that the holidays will be all right thanks to Holly House.
“I feel like somebody has got my back,” she said.
For more information on Holly House see www.hollyhouseforkids.blogspot.com/
Some of the silent and live auction items at Holly House’s Gala and Auction included Casablanca DVD collectors set, treat baskets, sketches of Seattle, vintage Seattle World’s Fair glass set, 7-night stay at Lake Chelan, Tom Douglas cooking class for two, Seattle Mariner tickets, Chihuly Glass and Garden tickets, Grease sing-along tickets, Lynnwood Police Department ride-along, wine tasting at Lauren Ashton Cellars, American Girl Dolls, Lynnwood Pool Party package. Appetizers were provided by Red Dragon Casino. Sponsors were Aramark, System Solutions, Thrivent Financial, Electronic Business Machines, Pinnacle Electric, Golden Insurance and Red Dragon Casino.
– By David Pan