By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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On Thursday, the Toys for Sequim Kids’ Warm Tree, located in the entryway at Rite Aid, 520 W. Washington St., was still heavily decorated with tags for clothes still needed for the giveaway.
Each tag is different, noting the age, gender and the general description of a piece of clothing.
“Teenage boy, hat and gloves,” one tag was marked, while another said, “Five-year old girl, pajamas.”
But with only two weeks before the giveaway, there are still too many tags hanging on the tree.
Toys for Sequim Kids is a Sequim Community Aid program to help low-income parents give Christmas gifts to their children, from birth through the eighth grade, including toys, clothes and cozy winter blankets.
Donors can shop anywhere for the clothes, then return them, marked with a tag from the tree, to the Rite Aid customer service desk.
On Thursday, Rite Aid manager JoAnn Balisteri pulled out a large box of donated clothes ready to be sorted and given away.
“There is some good stuff in here this year,” Balisteri said.
However, the box, which held about 20 pieces or sets of clothing, represented a small portion of what is needed for the 350-400 children the program serves.
The program also needs toys that are not a part of the Warm Tree.
Toys can be dropped off at the Clallam County Fire District No. 3 station at 323 N. Fifth Ave.
Gifts should not be wrapped, since parents are allowed to choose the toys and clothes most appropriate for their children from the donated selection, said Donna Tidrick, president of Sequim Community Aid.
Dec. 19 distribution
The gifts will be distributed between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Dec. 19.
Only one parent will be allowed into the distribution room, and children will not be admitted, Tidrick said.
There is no preregistration necessary, but parents must bring photo identification and proof — such as a utility bill — that they live in the Sequim School District, she said.
Tidrick added that each family can choose one blanket, but families that got blankets last year are not eligible for a blanket this year.
Sixty-five years ago, a program called Christ in Christmas began in 1947 to help workers at the 200 dairy farms that once dotted the Sequim-Dungeness Valley landscape.
The program provided a toy for each child and a basket of food for the families, Tidrick said.
Resurrected in 1980s
In 1983, the organization had fallen on hard times and was nearly defunct, she said.
A group of volunteers who wanted to see the tradition continue reorganized the effort and formed a new committee to run it, and the result was renamed Toys for Sequim Kids.
“I’d like to thank all of the anonymous donors through the years,” Tidrick said.
Sequim Community Aid also provides emergency utility payments, rents and deposits, local bus tickets and paper products to low-income families year-round.
For more information, phone 360-681-3731
Tax-deductible cash donations can be sent to P.O. Box 1591, Sequim, WA 98382.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.