Christmas House helps ensure gifts for low-income families
EVERETT — Opening day for Christmas House brings joy for the waiting men and women lined up in the cold of the early morning, as all are eager to bring back gifts for children who might otherwise not have any.
The nonprofit organization collects and gives away more than 40,000 presents a year for children in need.
Christmas House will again be at the Everett Boys & Girls Club, 2316 12th Street in Everett this year. It will open Thursday, Nov. 29 and operate Tuesdays through Saturdays until finishing its season Dec. 15.
Christmas House is available to families that earn less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level. For a family of three, the threshold is earning less than $2,597.50 a month for the household or less than $599.42 a week. For a family of four means earning less than $37,650 a year, which amounts to no more than $725 a week in pay before taxes are taken out.
This is the 38th season of giving. The “store” has operated since 1981, with humble beginnings out of late founder Roy Fraser’s garage. He served more than 100 children with handmade presents that year.
Fraser died shortly thereafter, but the organization kept up the spirit and grew larger and larger.
During last year’s 13-day shopping season, Christmas House benefited 7,500 children from 2,500 families who received more than 46,000 free gifts.
The donation-driven store typically serves 200 Snohomish County residents daily, Tuesday through Friday, and 300 on Saturdays. They also set aside additional passes for special-needs customers, who are exempted from waiting in lines for tickets.
The parents receive escorted tours of a horde of high quality toys. Toy tables are divided by age and gender.
At an infants’ section, hand-sewn quilts and knit blankets graced the display. A toy train parked at the toddler table. Faux-fur lined coats waited on racks to warm teenagers, and Mr. Potato Transformers sets sat at a table for boys up to eight years old.
Christmas House has its own wish list: the organization is looking for help to find or purchase additional storage.
Volunteers are also always in demand, as are funds for more toys.
Christmas House has a few rules, but volunteers are strictest about disallowing children or infants from entering. The reason is because the parents are supposed to surprise their children with the gifts.
Only one person per family can enter Christmas House.
To shop, you must be a Snohomish County resident living 150 percent below the federal poverty line. You must bring photo ID, bring proof you are the custodial parent of every child you are shopping for, bring proof of your spouse or significant other (if any) living in the household to count them in the family’s size, and bring proof of your income. Current DSHS forms and pay stubs have much of this information.
To read more of the rules or to learn how to donate, visit Christmas House online at www.christmas-house.org. To call Christmas House, the nonprofit set up a hot line at 425-338-2273.
Christmas House continues through Dec. 15. Would-be shoppers, volunteers and donors can find out more at the website www.christmas-house.org
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