By Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times Staff
Heather has been organizing donated books for days, with 700 new American Girl books in the queue waiting to be sorted and become Christmas gifts for Lynnwood’s children in need.
Volunteers at Holly House, a holiday gift program for Edmonds School District (ESD) children in low-income households, are working tirelessly to ensure they can meet demand this holiday season amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Every year Holly House is faced with the huge task of gathering new hats, scarves, socks, underwear, pajamas, books, toiletries, blankets, stuffed animals, and toys to provide as gifts.
“Our children are cold, often going to school without socks and underwear,” says Holly House’s website. “No child should have to live in those kinds of situations. Every child should have warm pajamas, a toothbrush, socks, underwear, and toys.”
Pam Martinez, Executive Director of Holly House, says that the gifts children receive from them during the holidays are necessities, whether it be keeping them warm or providing learning development opportunities.
“So many of our children are two and three years behind,” said Martinez. “Owning new, beautiful books helps encourage them to keep reading.”
Holly House established itself in 2006 as a grassroots operation at a local food bank serving 260 children. It now serves an average of 2,200 children throughout 16 ESD schools. Yet, with looming hardship this year due to the impacts of COVID-19, more families in the community are in need of assistance this holiday season.
“We are working hard to meet the needs of our children as more and more of these families turn to Holly House for help and support,” said Holly House in a statement on its website.
Martinez says she and her organization are immensely thankful for all the generous people within the community who have donated gifts for the children they serve.
“The many children we serve – children who are often sad, lonely and feeling hopeless as their families battle homelessness, isolation, fear, joblessness….you bring great hope in an otherwise, often bleak world.”