Giving trees

Students prepare one of the many Giving Trees around town in December 2018 for the Stanwood Camano Food Bank Christmas House. The effort continues again this year.

Santa’s elves are back at work in the Stanwood-Camano area.

The annual Stanwood Camano Food Bank Christmas House will once again be up and running to help local families in need. 

Starting last year because of the pandemic, the operation transformed from a place where parents in need could “shop” free of charge for their children into an operation more akin to a warehouse where the orders will be filled, said Mardi Jorgensen, coordinator of the project.

“Parents will fill out forms asking for sizes and interests of kids,” she said. “We will then fill orders and have parents pick up the orders at the Christmas House, located at 9928 272nd Place NW in Stanwood.

No appointments will be made this year. Once the forms are received from the guardian/parent, volunteers will do the shopping. Families, who also must be a client of the Stanwood Camano Food Bank to be served, will be contacted to pick up gifts. 

People can apply to become a qualified client of the food bank by registering online at stanwoodcamanofoodbank.org/sign-up-for-services or at the food bank between 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesdays and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays.

The effort served about 2,275 local children last season, which was a 90% increase from the previous year. 

Jorgensen said that like last year, she anticipates a high need due to the pandemic.

Community members can donate gifts directly to the Christmas House, the Stanwood-Camano Food Bank or via Stanwood-Camano Food Bank sponsored “giving trees” located in businesses throughout Stanwood and Camano Island.

For information or to sponsor a giving tree, contact Jorgensen at 360-913-1551.

There is also an online giving tree option through Amazon.com, but shoppers must use a unique link. To get the link, email crystal2353@hotmail.com or call 425-380-0011.

Suggestions for donations this year include toys/gifts for ages infancy-18 with emphasis on age-appropriate gifts for ages 7-18, clothes (size newborn to 3X), pajamas, games, gift cards (suggested $20-$25 price point) or certificates, socks and underwear, mittens/gloves, hats/scarves, boots/shoes, quilts and toiletries. Gift cards are a wonderful option for teenagers, she said. All gifts must be new and unwrapped.

Jorgensen, who normally spends much of the year shopping around for deals to help stock the Christmas House, said she was unable to do her traditional shopping trips because of the pandemic and global supply chain issues. 

“I used to be able to get things for pennies on the dollar, but now everything is full-priced,” she said. 

Donations to Christmas House are tax-deductible. Make checks payable to the Stanwood-Camano Food Bank marked for Christmas House.

Contact reporter Evan Caldwell at ecaldwell@scnews.com and follow him on Twitter @Evan_SCN for updates throughout the week and on Instagram @evancaldwell.scn for more photos.

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