Weston Dill, who stands barely tall enough for his head to peek above the dining table in his family’s home, is hoping to be a big donor for homeless children this year.
As he has the past two years, the Clinton kindergartner is organizing a gift drive for the Everett Gospel Mission. The homeless shelter serves an estimated 300 people from Island, Skagit and Snohomish counties every day.
The 6-year-old student at Wellington Day School is asking people for new and like-new gifts of books and boots for youths from infancy to 18 who may be served by the Everett Gospel Mission.
“Last year, I saw kids wearing flip-flops in winter,” Weston said.
“It was snowing and they were wearing Crocs and flip flops,” he later added, referring to a previous visit to the shelter in North Everett.
Previous iterations of the drive have collected coats, gloves and hats, and stuffed animals. The latter of which filled their SUV with more than 100 “stuffies,” as Weston called them, when they were hoping to collect 40 so that each child served by Everett Gospel Mission would have at least one.
The pursuit of boots was his first idea back when he was an ambitious, big-hearted 4-year-old with a desire to help. Mom Jenny Dill tempered his expectations with items that were easier to give, like coats and hats, which have more room for growth than shoes.
A goal of 120 books was set, which would mean a few for each child at the mission.
Donations are being collected through Tuesday, Dec. 15 and will be delivered by the Dill family. Collection bins are located at Porter Whidbey Insurance, 5595 S. Harbor Ave., Freeland, and Wellington Day School, 5719 Pioneer Park Place, Langley.
“Parents will be happy with the boots, kids will be happy with the books,” Jenny Dill said.
Getting the donations collected by Dec. 15 will allow her time to sort them by age and put bows on the books.
“Before Christmas it’s nice to get something that feels like it’s just for you,” she said.
She helps with the technical aspects of the drive. Other than that, the project, which Dill titled Weston’s Warm Winter Project and set up a page for on Facebook, is entirely led by her son.
This year’s project got started late due to Weston needing surgery; he was housebound for a month. The avid student at Armstrong’s Taekwondo in Clinton underwent a procedure to repair what his mom said was like a hernia.
The injury upset Weston, a child with seemingly boundless energy who fidgets on the couch next to his mother for the better part of an hour while being interviewed by The Record. But once he heard his sports hero, Marshawn Lynch (for whom he named his goldfish — Marshawn Lynch Russell Wilson Dill) had a similar injury, he felt better about it and was back focusing on his donation project.
Weston retreats when he is asked about why he does the donation collection, feeling a little shy about the attention. But he knew exactly why people should give a pair of boots and a few books.
“Because they don’t have any,” he said, referring to the estimated 30-40 children served by Everett Gospel Mission at any given time. An estimated 300 people are served by the mission’s two shelters every night.
Giving gifts to the children at the mission this time of year is in line with the holiday spirit, he said.
“It feels like they’re getting presents,” Weston said, smiling mere steps from the Christmas tree his family purchased last year and rooted into a planter. Weston, an all-around thoughtful boy, successfully argued with his family to not cut down a tree because “trees make air that we breathe.”
The bins at both Porter Whidbey Insurance and Wellington Day School were overflowing.