Christmas House given windfall of gifts

EVERETT — Every year, Christmas House in Everett makes the holidays a bit brighter for families and children in need, handing out donated toys and gifts collected through its annual drive.

This year is turning out to be the program’s biggest yet.

“We’re getting more donations this year from more organizations, more businesses, more individuals than we ever have,” board President Rick Kvangnes said.

The support is coming in the form of toys, cash and in-kind donations.

Christmas House is seeing its largest coterie of volunteers as well, Kvangnes said.

“I love it here,” said Antonia Lopez, who has volunteered for three years. The Lake Stevens resident initially came to Christmas House as a client to get toys, and now she brings her 16-year-old son to volunteer alongside her, she said.

As of today, the final day Christmas House is open this season, Christmas House has served more than 9,000 children or families from every city in Snohomish County, Kvangnes said.

“There’s a definite need for what we do, and for many families these are the only Christmas presents their children will get,” Kvangnes said.

Donations continued to roll in Friday as several truckloads of toys from Les Schwab Tire Centers pulled up and a human chain of volunteers ferried the bags into the gym of the Everett Boys &Girls Club.

Rich Baalman, area manager for Les Schwab Tire Centers, coordinated the company’s first toy drive to benefit Christmas House.

Baalman estimated that donations have averaged 280 toys collected at each of the chain’s 18 stores in Snohomish County, or more than 5,000 individual toys, games, sports equipment, bicycles and other gift items.

“By far this is the biggest drive we’ve had of any kind,” Baalman said.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com.

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