Sea Mar Christmas parties distribute 10,000 toys to needy children

MARYSVILLE — On Saturday, Dec. 22, 250 needy children in Snohomish County will receive a bag of age-appropriate gifts and toys, and more than a hundred families will enjoy holiday meals at the Sea Mar Community Health Center's Snohomish County Christmas Party at Cedarcrest Middle School in Marysville.

For nearly 25 years, Sea Mar has hosted Christmas parties in several Western Washington counties where the organization's medical, dental, behavioral health, social and educational services are offered.

In total, more than 3,000 children will be served at Christmas parties throughout seven counties served by Sea Mar, including Snohomish, King, Clark, Whatcom and Grays Harbor in Western Washington, and Yakima and Franklin in Eastern Washington. Sea Mar in Skagit County also partners in a county-wide effort, that serves nearly 2,000 low-income families and more than 5,000 children.

At Sea Mar-sponsored parties, more than 10,000 toys will be distributed, mostly from funds raised through the organization's annual golf tournament and other fundraising activities. The children invited to the annual event are from families served by Sea Mar who meet the federal low-income eligibility guidelines. The Snohomish County party will include a holiday dinner for families, three gifts for each child 12 years and younger, children's crafts, face-painting, entertainment, balloons, photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and a special visit from the "Reptile Man."

"The Christmas party is part of Sea Mar's commitment to help families with limited resources enjoy the holidays just a little bit more — sometimes a lot more," said Tamara Fitzpatrick, nurse manager at Sea Mar's Marysville Medical Clinic. "It's not unusual each year to hear from parents that the Sea Mar party is 'Christmas for our kids.'"

Fitzpatrick added that the annual event is made possible each year through the generous donations of local businesses and the hard work of Sea Mar staff and volunteers.

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