Readiness to Learn Holiday House open for business

  • by KATE DANIEL ,  South Whidbey Record Features And Education  
  • Dec 18, 2014 at 8:00AM updated Dec 19, 2014 at 6:17AM
Bayley G, a member of the South Whidbey High School Associated Student Body, is one of this year's Holiday House volunteers. Here, she stands in the apparel section of the South Whidbey Holiday House. — Image Credit: Contributed Photo

Bayley G, a member of the South Whidbey High School Associated Student Body, is one of this year's Holiday House volunteers. Here, she stands in the apparel section of the South Whidbey Holiday House.

— Image Credit: Contributed Photo

The Readiness to Learn Foundation is working to ensure every child and teen on South Whidbey receives a gift this holiday season, regardless of their family's financial status. The foundation's annual Holiday House, a project to provide free gifts for kids and teens whose families are struggling, opened for business this week at the Hoffman Building at the Island County Fairgrounds in Langley.

The South Whidbey house is open today through Dec. 20 from 9:30 to 6 p.m. Another house at Coupeville Elementary to serve the central and north Whidbey communities is also open today through Dec. 23.

Gail LaVassar, Readiness to Learn executive director, estimates that this year they will serve up to 1,000 children in Island County. Toys for Tots provides some toys, and Readiness to Learn purchases others with financial donations from the community. As of Tuesday, the South Whidbey Holiday House had received about 1084 toys from Toys for Tots and had purchased more than 894 gifts using financial donations.

"Families have told us that they are finding gifts their children want," wrote LaVassar in an email to The Record. "Several parents have said, 'The hardest thing is choosing between lots of good choices!' This is exactly the shopping we set out to create. We want it to feel like a real store and not a hand out."

Donations are still being accepted, and the Foundation has a particular need for gifts for kids age 14 and older who are not served by Toys for Tots. Gift ideas for teens include grooming aids, cell phone accessories, gift cards, beauty products, fishing gear and tool kits. Donations can be sent to Holiday House PO Box 280 Langley.

South Whidbey families in need of assistance can visit www.rtl-foundation.org/contact-us or call 360-221-6808 ext 4321 or email rtlfprograms@rtl-foundation.org. Schedulers for the South Whidbey Holiday House are only able to take appointments through noon on Dec. 19. North and Central Whidbey families can call 360-279-5514 to schedule an appointment. For both the Langley and Coupeville houses, schedulers will ask a few questions regarding income eligibility and will then schedule a time.

"There are many families who cannot afford to purchase their children Christmas gifts," wrote LaVassar. "Holiday House helps parents by providing gifts and eliminating the stress of deciding whether to pay the heating bill or buy their child a gift."