Evan Thompson / The Record Hundreds of toys will be given out to children who belong to families struggling through financial hardships at the 13th annual Holiday House in the Coffman Building at the Island County Fairgrounds.

Holiday House opens its doors to struggling families for 13th year

With the help of the community, Langley Middle School students, and the island-wide Toys for Tots program, Holiday House has returned to help families struggling through financial hardships.

The Readiness to Learn Foundation’s 13th annual event, which provides free gifts for kids whose families are struggling, began Tuesday and runs through Dec. 19 at the Coffman Building at Island County Fairgrounds. It will be closed for one day on Sunday, Dec. 18. Families in need can sign up by contacting Executive Director Gail LaVassar at glavassar@readinesstolearn.org or by calling 360-221-6808, ext. 4602

Holiday House assists anywhere between 300 to 400 kids per year. Families are pre-screened and given a chance to scan the aisles to find the most ideal gift for their children. By freeing up worries to provide their children with presents, hard-pressed families can dedicate their money to living expenses and basic commodities, said Gail LaVassar, executive director of the Readiness to Learn Foundation. Toys include Kindle Fires, Skull Candy headphones, virtual reality headsets, LEGOs and characters from Star Wars: Rouge One.

“We try to target what kids want this year,” Lavassar said.

Preparations began on Monday when 150 middle school students created decorations for the interior of the building, while 15 students apart of the middle school’s builder’s club placed them.

The shelves were stocked by community donations, in addition to hundreds of stocking stuffers, 20 bikes and other gifts delivered by the Toys for Tots program on Monday. The delivery was organized by Ed Donery, Tom Keltner and Dennis Phillips of the Maj. Megan McClung Marine Corps League Detachment 1210.

“We’re making sure every kid has a good Christmas,” Phillips said. “Because that’s what it’s all about — the kids.”

There are opportunities to volunteer at Holiday House. One helper is needed from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16, and two volunteers are needed from the same timespan on Monday, Dec. 19. There are three, two-hour sessions of clean-up beginning at 11 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m.

Contact LaVassar at glavassar@readinesstolearn.org or call 360-221-6808, ext. 4602 to volunteer.