EVERETT – The family of four left Iraq three years ago and moved into a house in south Everett.
Nibras Fahkri, 35, is a doctor. Her husband is an anesthetist.
Fahkri passed his certification exams to practice medicine in the United States.
She and her husband are looking for a job.
So far, they have been unlucky.
Meanwhile, Fahkri volunteers at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.
With December well under way, the couple needed help playing Santa this year. Their two children, Zainab, 5, and Abdullah, 6, hope to find gifts under their Christmas tree.
A friend told Fahkri about the Christmas House.
The non-profit organization annually converts the gym at the Everett Boys and Girls Club into a holiday-themed gift shop. All gifts are donated by people in the community or purchased by the organization with grant funds.
Christmas House expects to provide gifts to 8,500 children from 3,000 low-income families this holiday season.
Buyers are matched with a volunteer. Together they walk from table to table, looking through sets of sidewalk chalk, dolls and headphones. Parents can choose gifts for each child at no cost, as well as a gift for the whole family.
Fahkri smiled when she spoke of her children finding out that Santa Claus had visited their home on Christmas Eve.
Her cart quickly began to fill up with My Little Pony toys, knit hats, stuffed animals, and books. Fahkri found a book with a yellow bird on the cover for Abdullah. He is curious about birds.
Zainab loves Elsa and Anna, the characters from the movie “Frozen”. When she watches the movie, she sings the soundtrack with a fake microphone.
Angela Almelia, another client, has 11 children. Most of them are cultivated.
She was choosing gifts for her 15-year-old daughter and 17-year-old son who still live at the house.
“Their father passed away a few years ago. It means a lot to them, ”Almelia said. “If we hadn’t come to Christmas House, we wouldn’t have any freebies. It’s too expensive.”
Another customer loaded her arms with stuffed animals: an elephant, a dinosaur and a frog.
It took over 800 volunteers to make this possible between hanging wreaths and organizing stacks of 10-foot-high boxes filled with donated toys.
Many have been volunteering for years.
“Once we have people here, they stay,” said Gregg Milne, chairman of the Christmas House board.
He started volunteering three years ago after retiring from the Snohomish County Utility District.
“I had a good life, a good job. It’s time for me to give back, ”Milne said.
Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; [email protected]
About the Christmas House
The Christmas House is open until December 17, from Tuesday to Saturday.
Buyers are encouraged to provide proof of their identity and household income, among other information.
People with disabilities are invited to call 425-338-2273 to make an appointment.
More information: http://www.christmas-house.org/