EVERETT — Santa’s workshop is back up and running in north Everett this year.
Elves — er, volunteers — were busy Monday morning transforming the Boys & Girls Club into a jolly holiday store run by nonprofit Christmas House. Starting Wednesday, low-income families can peruse a plethora of free gifts to wrap up for their little ones. It’ll mark 40 years of the cheery tradition.
Funko POP! figurines peered off the shelves, Frog and Toad storybooks clamored to be read aloud and shopping carts were stuffed with hand-made quilts. A towering maze of even more goodies hid behind a row of curtains, ensuring the shop will be fully stocked for the entire three-week operation.
In 2020, the pandemic curbed the traditional Christmas House shop. Instead of parents picking out toys in person, the items were delivered via food banks. Space constraints meant fewer toys got into the hands of local kiddos. And the annual cheer of in-person Christmas House was missed.
“So much work goes into this 12 months out of the year, and to get to that final point and not be able to open — it hit us hard,” said Tish Casavola, who has volunteered with the nonprofit for a decade. “I love engaging with the parents. They’re amazing.”
This year, the shop will look more or less like a normal year, save for the mandatory masks and limited occupancy. Turnout could be higher than recent years due to the pandemic. Christmas House is prepared to give out about three times as many items as last year.
That includes tyke-sized bikes refurbished by Everett’s Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop, and things like wrapping paper and decor so families can plan for a bright Christmas season.
“I don’t know anywhere in the county where people can get what they’re getting here,” Christmas House President Gregg Milne said. He noted many charity gift programs don’t include kids as old as 18.
Snohomish County residents with a kid in their custody are eligible if their household income is at or below 150% the federal poverty level. Bring an ID and proof of residency, guardianship and income to the shop, where tickets will be handed out starting at 7 a.m. Kids aren’t allowed inside.
The shop will run Tuesday through Saturday until Dec. 18. A few hundred tickets are given out each day and the shop is regularly restocked so families don’t have to worry about what day to show up.
And fret not, bad gift-givers: Christmas House has suggestions for how to brighten a local kids’ holiday. Craft kits and remote control cars are on the list for 9- to 12-year-olds. For teens — perhaps the trickiest to shop for — consider makeup sets, telescopes and sports equipment.
Christmas House began in 1981 in a local garage. But the 40-year milestone won’t include much fanfare.
“We’re pretty low-key,” Milne said. “Our mission is the kids.”
Want to help?
Learn more about how to volunteer or donate at christmas-house.org/.