Christmas gifts for Cocoon House teen shelter pour in December 25, 2011
Ways to give: How and where to help in your community November 13, 2011
Among the Christmas wishes of many other teens served by Cocoon House programs are a fleece jacket, an iPod, art supplies, a college scholarship -- and simply to be able to go home.
Cocoon House provides emergency housing for youths 13 to 21 years old. Two emergency shelters for those 13 to 17 are in Everett and Arlington. A short-term transitional shelter for young adults, 18 to 21, is in Monroe.
Cocoon House also offers Teen Parent Advocate services to provide support throughout Snohomish County for pregnant and parenting teens ages 13-20 and their children, from birth to age 5.
I asked residents of Cocoon House to send me their Christmas wishes. We don't share their names, but the passages that follow are their own words.
Heidi Scott, development and community relations manager, said the shelter has a wish, too.
"Cocoon House is in desperate need for a commercial washer and dryer for the central shelter in Everett," Scott said. "We are being forced to transport our laundry to other shelters, and our youth don't have an easy way to ensure they have clean clothing."
Now, here's what the kids say:
Age 15, female, Everett: I am a Cocoon House resident. I am at Cocoon House because my mother abused me. She is a violent alcoholic who beat me and emotionally abused me. Finally, I couldn't take being under her abuse anymore, so I called the police, who did nothing to help me.
Then, I went to my school and told my favorite teacher what was happening and she helped me call CPS. This was not the first time they had been called on my behalf, but it was the first time that they did anything to help me. I was signed in to a shelter that same day.
If I could have anything for Christmas, I would want art supplies. It doesn't even matter what kind, whether it's a set of paints and a canvas, or a sketch pad and some pencils, I would be happy with anything.
I would also be really happy if I received a card with it so that I would know that somebody out there cares about us.
Age 17, male, Everett: I live at Cocoon House due to parental issues. My mom is an unstable parent and cannot take care of me and does not care to do so. She would rather worry about herself and blame everyone else but herself for the life she is living.
I had to end my relationship with her until she is responsible, clean and acts like a real parent should. It was the biggest decision I had to make for myself because I love her and want the best for her.
My step dad cannot have me live with him because he has his own problems and has a friend living with him.
I like living here. I have received help and the basic essentials I never received living with my mother. The staff is great and really care about us. I appreciate everything they do for us and do not mind doing what I have to do to show my appreciation.
If I could ask for something for Christmas, I would really want a scholarship for college. I want to do and be the best I can be and I strive for success and get A's and B's in school. I never want to have to worry about going through the things I have in my past living situation.
I never want to go without food, water, heat, electricity or living with 10-plus different groups of junkies that constantly had drugs in the house around me ever again.
I also really want an iPod touch because my old broken one that sort of worked was stolen from me and that was my most valuable possession to me besides everything that was worth any value that was stolen from me when living with my mom.
Thank you so much for reading. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Age 17, female, Everett: This is the first Christmas that I will be having as a parent and not a child. Every Christmas I try and feel like a kid, but not this year.
Everything has changed.
I want to be able to provide a holiday for my baby, one that I was never able to have. This year I will only be able to purchase one gift for my 1-year-old girl. Each month I only have enough money to buy diapers and food so any other needs just get put on the back burner.
I hope to receive baby clothes sizes 24 months to 2T and especially warmer clothes.
I am currently enrolled to become a medical assistant and will be starting my internship in January. For once in my life I feel that I have a future and I can begin to provide for my family.
I am desperately in need of professional medical shoes, size 9.5.
I also love to read and enjoy any popular teen books, like the "Twilight" series. If I could have one wish, it would be to wake up and know that I can provide my baby everything she needs.
Age 17, male, Everett: I live at Cocoon House because I'm homeless and don't have a family that ever cared about me. I have always been lonely and poor during the holidays with no one ever thinking about me or giving me anything.
I wish I could have a Christmas with a family of happiness and joy. I love music and am learning to play the guitar at Cocoon House and would love to someday have my own guitar.
What I would like for Christmas is a pair of black shoes or boots size 10½.
My hope for the future is to leave Cocoon House and live a life of happiness.
Age 15, female, Monroe: I have never had a good Christmas. My family has never been there for me or cared for me.
My family is not a healthy one and I have never really had the feel of what a true Christmas is. I always envied people I see on TV during Christmas time and hope someday to feel the same way.
I am wishing from you reading this to give us a good Christmas at Cocoon House.
I hope to get a pair of UGG boots size 8½.
My hope is to stay at Cocoon House so I can be safe and be with people who care about me.
Age 16, male, Stanwood: I am currently living at Cocoon House. I have to live here because the state won't let me live at home because it is not safe.
I like living here because the people here are nice to me.
I have always been sad and scared during Christmas so I am looking forward to Christmas at Cocoon House.
I would like a new pair of shoes, some shirts, pants and some weights. But most of all I would like to be able to go back home someday.
Age 17, female, Everett: I have lived at Cocoon House since I was 13 years old because my mom didn't want me anymore. Cocoon House has been my home for the past four years.
I have never had a true family Christmas and the only memories I have is Christmas at the Cocoon House shelter.
I have always wanted a North Face fleece jacket size XL, but I know that this is expensive so I don't expect to get one. I am now getting ready to graduate from high school and am taking classes at Everett Community College.
I am looking forward to living on my own and being happy.
Age 17, female, Mill Creek: I live at Cocoon House because I have no other option. My family was never there for me and never supported me or provided me the guidance or direction and didn't care about what happened to me.
When I was a small child, I remember having the holidays with my grandparents. If I could wish for one thing, it would be to go back to that time and see and be with my grandparents.
I just want to be with people who are happy and make me laugh. I am always scared and lonely and want to laugh again.
Now that I'm 17, I know that I have to get ready to be on my own. I am working to complete high school and hope to start taking some college classes.
I wish I had a digital camera so I could take pictures of my friends so I can remember them. I want my future to be happy and I don't want to be sad and lonely anymore.
Age 17, female, Oak Harbor: I am living at Cocoon House because living at home wasn't working. There was so much conflict and anger and it wasn't safe.
There were always Christmas presents, but there wasn't any love or meaning behind them and then they were taken away.
I hope to get a zebra bedspread for Christmas.
Next year, when I leave Cocoon House, I plan to join the Peace Corps. This has always been a dream of mine.
Kristi O'Harran: 425-339-3451; firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to help
Anyone may deliver a gift for someone at Cocoon House to the Development and Community Relations Office at 2929 Pine St. in Everett.
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