When Samantha Jackson and her family moved back to Oak Harbor eight years ago after her husband’s Navy deployment, cash was tight.
The family encountered a number of financially difficult circumstances all at once, just in time for the holidays. She and her husband got full custody of her teenage step-daughter. The family had just undergone an international move, and Jackson wasn’t able to work yet.
“We definitely needed the help we could get, and a paper came to me from my children’s school,” she said.
The paper was a flyer about the Holiday House, an annual charitable program put on by South End nonprofit Readiness to Learn to provide Christmas gifts for children. Jackson decided to give it a try.
“They were amazing gifts, and I was completely overwhelmed,” she said. “I didn’t even know that I was going to walk out with anything, and I literally walked out with my entire kids’ Christmas.”
Every year, Holiday House provides gifts for families like Jackson’s who need a little extra help to make Christmas happen. This year, through a grant offered by her place of work, Jackson is giving back.
The Oak Harbor Home Depot is providing a $1,000 grant to the Holiday House to help fund Christmas for Whidbey Island families this year. Jackson, who now works as the community outreach captain at Home Depot, said the company provides a $1,000 grant to a local nonprofit every holiday season.
When Jackson told her fellow employees about the Holiday House, they decided to award it this year’s grant.
Cailyn Murray, Family Resource Center coordinator at Readiness to Learn, said the Holiday House has been operating for 17 years. Though the program operated via delivery last year for public health purposes because of the COVID-19 pandemic, most years Readiness to Learn employees and volunteers put on a “store” where eligible families can shop for free for kids’ gifts and stocking stuffers.
This year, the program will revert back to its store format. Murray said store employees and volunteers try to make the shopping experience joyful for participants.
Of the Home Depot grants, Murray said they will help provide toys that kids will be happy to receive.
“It’s that kind of generous gift that really reminds me that we live in a community where people care about families and children, and businesses care about families and children, and that kind of wellness is a priority for communities,” she said.
The store opens Dec. 10. South End families can sign up for a shopping appointment at https://bit.ly/swHH2021.
North End families can arrange an appointment by contacting their children’s school counselors, or the Opportunity Council if they don’t have school age children.