Christmas House wants every child to get a gift
EVERETT — The all-volunteer group Christmas House believes in the benevolent idea that every child should get a toy for the holidays.
Today is the opening day of operations to provide a "free store" for low-income families.
Parents and custodians can select brand-new toys inside the gym of The Everett Boys & Girls Club, 2316 12th St. Christmas House is open on Tuesdays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. through Dec. 18.
Before you go, know there are rules.
Christmas House serves Snohomish County families who earn 150% or less of the federal poverty level. For a household of two, it is $502.50 a week before tax; for three, it is $633.46 a week before tax. (An individual earning minimum wage working 40 hours a week earns $547.60 a week before tax.)
You must bring proof of custody of the child you're shopping for (a birth certificate is one way), proof of income with a recent wage slip or government paperwork, proof of how many members are in your household and proof of a current Snohomish County address.
People must wait their turn, and starting at 7 a.m. people are given slips of paper with an appointment time to shop.
It's for the kids, but don't plan to bring them inside. No children or infants are allowed inside, and there's no day care available on-site, so you'll have to make arrangements while you shop.
The restrictions to adults-only is from the principle of gift-giving. The whole idea is for a parent to thoughtfully shop for their child.
If you go, you'd shop for a stocking stuffer, a small toy, a large toy and a new coat or footwear. The store's family table includes a limited supply of wrapping paper and bows to take home.
"We have plenty of toys" to meet this year's need, the nonprofit's president, Gregg Milne, said. He expects Christmas House will give away upward of 23,000 toys to 7,300 children in 2,500 families. With the pandemic-stricken economy, it could be more.
Some huddle in the cold to be first in line for 7 a.m., but people can still get a ticket to shop if they arrive by around mid-morning, Milne said. While 200 tickets are given on weekdays, and 300 on weekends, sometimes, there were days where shopping tickets didn't run out until the afternoon, he said.
“Whether you come the first day or the last day, there are good quality toys,” Milne said. “Plenty of nice stuff.”
All of the toys are brand-new through donations. There are some reconditioned bicycles, too, thanks to volunteers from Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop of Everett.
The nonprofit is following COVID-19 safety closely, and you must bring your own mask to enter.
This is the first time during the pandemic that Christmas House has convened people to shop. Last year, the group distributed toys through food banks.
Volunteers have kept the magic of Christmas House alive for decades.
It all began 40 years ago with one kind man, Roy Fraser, who saw a need and stocked his garage with refurbished and handmade toys for the county’s children. Volunteers latched on and Christmas House has grown into the annual seasonal giveaway seen today.
People with disabilities or other documented medical problems can make special arrangements by calling 425-338-2273. A volunteer will shop for you with your guidance.
To donate a toy
Brand-new, unwrapped toys for Christmas House are being accepted at:
• All Les Schwab Tires locations,
• The Everett Mall Toy Chest, 1402 SE Everett Mall Way, Everett,
• Lamoureux Real Estate, 1904 Wetmore Ave., Everett,
• RE/MAX realty offices in Snohomish and Everett: 2902 Colby Ave. (corner of Colby and Hewitt), Everett, and 1800 Bickford Ave., #206, and 2701 Bickford Ave., Suite A, Snohomish.
• All Everett Fire Department stations
To learn how to volunteer at Christmas House or details on the rules to shop, go to www.christmas-house.org or call the message line at 425-338-2273.
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