Lions member building birdhouses to help food bank

A South Whidbey man is using his time at home constructively by building birdhouses and donating all proceeds from the sales to a good cause.

Freeland resident Clayton Engebretsen started making birdhouses for his great-grandchildren during the stay-at-home order.

He soon realized it would make a good fundraiser for the South Whidbey Lions Club, which he has been a part of since 1984.

Since that realization, Enge-bretsen has been selling the birdhouses, made in varying styles, for a suggested minimum donation of $20 each. Money from the sales goes towards supporting the South Whidbey Lions Club’s Foundation, in particular its sight and hearing programs.

The Freeland-based branch of the club has also been seeking to support local projects and charities, such as the Good Cheer Food Bank.

“I’ve got this knack for building, and I thought this would be a good way to help the food bank,” Engebretsen said.

The nonagenarian is a World War II veteran who spent 27 years serving in the Navy. Not just a builder of houses for the birds, Engebretsen’s daughter Barbara Allen said he built his own cabin in 1956 and moved permanently to Whidbey Island in 1978.

Engebretsen has built 62 birdhouses in total, raising $820 for the food bank. Some are built very traditionally, with just one entrance for a bird, whereas others have three.

“It’s just like an apartment,” he said with delight about the multiple openings.

To build the houses for the feathered critters Engebretsen has been using old fence boards, broomsticks and driftwood from the beach. Several have license plates as roofs, a creative idea which the 98-year-old said he Googled. He is open to other ideas if people have them.

So far Engebretsen has been selling the birdhouses from his back deck. He aims to make about two every day. Currently, he needs nails and one-by-six cedar fence boards to continue building.

• To inquire about buying a birdhouse or to donate materials, Engebretsen can be contacted by calling 360-331-6290.

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