EVERETT — Piles of toys took over both pool tables inside the bar.
The green felt disappeared under plastic trucks, stuffed bears and hundreds of knitted hats.
Wade Tucker and his friends gathered last week at Twin Foxes Pub and Eatery on Hewitt Avenue. He’s been bringing gift baskets to children who have cancer for nearly a decade.
“My dad died of cancer, a lot of my friends,” Tucker said. “Cancer is my No. 1 enemy, period.”
He sets up donation bins at businesses throughout Snohomish County. Tucker received enough presents for about 20 kids when he first started. This year, they made 150 packages.
He used to bring them all to the cancer center at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Now he receives more gifts than there are patients. This year he gave to the Interfaith Association family shelter in Everett and the cancer clinic that opened in August at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.
He plans to keep the tradition going as long as he can.
Tucker, 57, has lived in Granite Falls for most of his life and has played rock music in the area for the past 40 years. He’s the lead singer in a band called Never Kry. The group’s mission is to raise money for people with cancer and other conditions.
Teri Banks wrapped presents at the bar last week. She and her husband, David Banks, met Tucker through his music. They live in downtown Everett.
Banks knows how important the gifts are to families who have to stay at the hospital. Her teenage son has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. He often has doctor appointments at the children’s clinic in Seattle.
“I see the kids with serious health problems and parents struggling to keep it all together,” she said.
One reason the group meets at Twin Foxes is because their friend, Denise Haskins, works there. She hosts an auction at the bar for the kids’ fund. This year it raised more than $500.
They’ve also received larger toys than ever before. Someone left a bicycle near one of the donation bins. Tucker is still thinking about where it should go.
It took plenty of people to put everything together during the past few months. About 10 of them gathered at the bar on Saturday afternoon. Some sipped beer while they wrapped the boxes. Nachos were placed on a table for whoever wanted a snack with their drink.
Tucker laughed as he looked through the toys. Someone donated a pair of shoes with Bluetooth speakers in the soles.
“They never had that when I was a child,” he said.
Lettia Burch placed the finished baskets in cellophane bags and tied the tops with ribbon. It was the first time she had been at the wrapping party. She has three kids, and knows that it can be difficult for some families during the holidays.
“I’ve had people help me out with this kind of thing,” she said. “You want to give back.”