Volunteer “elf” Amy Pearson helps Guadarrama Quezada look for presents for her three children during the Toys for Sequim Kids event. Organizers said they saw a record amount of donations despite the pandemic in place. Sequim Gazette photos by Matthew Nash

Volunteer “elf” Amy Pearson helps Guadarrama Quezada look for presents for her three children during the Toys for Sequim Kids event. Organizers said they saw a record amount of donations despite the pandemic in place. Sequim Gazette photos by Matthew Nash

Community Aid keeps Christmas going during Covid

Event sees surge in donations

Christmas spirit and smiles shined bright, even from under masks, inside the Sequim Prairie Grange once again for Toys for Sequim Kids.

The annual event coordinated by Sequim Community Aid to help in-need families bring toys and other gifts to Sequim area children helped more than 100 families on Dec. 9, organizers said.

“It went well,” co-organizer Kathy Suta said.

“We got more than normal (in donations). The community really stepped up.”

Toys, blankets, clothes, books and more filled the grange hall as volunteer “elves” in masks and gloves led parents and guardians through to collect items.

Suta said their visitors were slightly down from year previous — the event helped about 140 families in 2019 — but “we don’t think the need is any less.”

Organizers believe various factors with COVID-19 may have played a part, such as an inability for parents to come to the event with their children at home instead being in school classrooms.

Extra items are in storage for 2021’s event, Suta said.

“We had a lot of nice toys and people were very generous and we had more monetary donations so that we could go out and buy more things that we needed,” she said.

The local chapter of Project Linus donated more than 300 blankets to the event. In years past each family could receive a blanket, but this year each child received one, Suta said.

The Santa Brigade, featuring firefighters with Union Local 2933 and the Sequim Volunteers Association, brought Santa to the Sequim Village Shopping Center for three nights earlier this month to collect donations.

Philomena Lund, Toys for Sequim Kids co-organizer, said there was a lot of joy at the event because when children saw Santa “it felt like they could for a brief moment have something like last year.”

Murrey’s Disposal and the Kiwanis Club of Sequim-Dungeness donated 27 bikes and helmets that were raffled off for families, as well.

“We appreciate the people who came out to help us,” Suta said. “We took extra precautions and were very strict … COVID didn’t stop us.”

Continued assistance

Throughout the year, Sequim Community Aid also provides year-round help with utility and rent for those in need in the Sequim area.

Monetary donations can be mailed to: Sequim Community Aid, P.O. Box 1591, Sequim, WA, 98382.

Checks for Toys for Sequim Kids should state “toys” on the memo line.

To donate to the agency for utility assistance, leave the memo blank, organizers said.

Call Sequim Community Aid at 360-681-3731 for assistance and/or to volunteer.

Suta said the group is looking for new volunteers to help with their ongoing efforts, too.

Continued support

Along with those mentioned above, Toys for Sequim donations came from community giving trees, blanket and clothing drives, and more.

Giving trees were set up at Anytime Fitness, YMCA of Sequim, Starbucks, Clallam Co-Op Farm and Garden, Grocery Outlet and JCPenney. Blue Sky Realty continued its blankets and coats drive.

Other donations came from: Walmart; Coastal Farm & Ranch; Radio Shack; Swain’s; Safeway; QFC; Sequim Association of Realtors, Marc Lawrence: Strait Business Capital and Professional Realty Services; Paiselys Boutique; Toys for Tots; BSA Troops 90; Sequim Prairie Grange, and various clubs, realtors and citizens who contributed toys, blankets and throws.

The event was co-chaired by Suta, Lund and Jim Davis.

Above: Loretta Amore checks her list for her four children with “elf” helper Sandra Granum at Toys for Sequim Kids on Dec. 9. Below: Alma Najera looks at blankets during Toys for Sequim Kids for her three children with help from volunteer Brii Hingtgen.

Above: Loretta Amore checks her list for her four children with “elf” helper Sandra Granum at Toys for Sequim Kids on Dec. 9. Below: Alma Najera looks at blankets during Toys for Sequim Kids for her three children with help from volunteer Brii Hingtgen.

Desirae Cortez and volunteer Kirsti Turella, a first year volunteer with Toys for Sequim Kids, look for just the right toy for one of Cortez’s four children. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Desirae Cortez and volunteer Kirsti Turella, a first year volunteer with Toys for Sequim Kids, look for just the right toy for one of Cortez’s four children. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

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