Edmonds School District families in need gathered at the Lynnwood’s Community Life Center Sunday to shop for new toys, books, warm hats and scarves, pajamas, Christmas stockings, stuffed animals and blankets — thanks to the ongoing work of Holly House.
This is the 11th year that the non-profit, led by Executive Director Pam Martinez, has helped ensure that local children will have a brighter Christmas. An estimated 2,200 children from the school district’s 16 highest-poverty schools will benefit, thanks to Holly House volunteers who collect donations year-round from individuals and businesses to be distributed during the holiday event.
One of the volunteers, Beth Chamaty of Lynnwood, said her own family has gone through its share of economic struggles in recent years, and she appreciates being able to give back to those who need it most.
“It makes me happy to see all these people with big bags of stuff,” Chamaty said.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Gary Ames of Mountlake Terrace, himself a single dad of four, who showed up to assist with setup and also to direct direct traffic flow through the gift areas on Sunday. “I’m glad to help,” he said.
Jorge Rivera, director of community engagement for Molina Healthcare — a long-time Holly House sponsor — was helping shoppers pick out hats and scarves for under the tree. Rivera said that 10 Molina employees were volunteering for the event, and added that he brought his own children, ages 12 and 15, to volunteer as well.
“It’s a great way for the family to come together,” he said.
Lynn Kline of Mountlake Terrace was helping out at an area filled with stuffed animals. Kline said she has been volunteering at the Holly House event for the past five years. “I like making people happy,” she said.
– Story and photos by Teresa Wippel