Community

Home Depot seeks volunteers to decorate traditional Christmas Village

Aileen Kesler and James Croft set up for the Christmas Village at Home Depot. Any volunteers are welcome to paint, decorate and set up before Dec. 9. - Rebecca Olson/Whidbey News-Times
Aileen Kesler and James Croft set up for the Christmas Village at Home Depot. Any volunteers are welcome to paint, decorate and set up before Dec. 9.
— image credit: Rebecca Olson/Whidbey News-Times

Memories will be made at Oak Harbor’s Christmas Village: sipping hot cocoa and smiling, sitting on Santa’s lap and laughing at the Grinch, petting goats and celebrating the holidays with loved ones.

With Frosty the Snowman, hayrides and festive decorations, there will be no shortage of smiles at the village, held in Home Depot’s parking lot.

“It’s a time of celebration during the month of December,” said Aileen Kesler, part of Orange Embrace, Home Depot’s community involvement team. She went to the village as a child and later brought her children, who now bring their own children.

“I love doing the Christmas Village. It allows families to get together and enjoy the holidays,” said Home Depot store manager James Croft, who’s looking forward to playing the part of the Grinch.

Home Depot seeks volunteers to help paint, decorate and set up the village before Dec. 9. Last year, Home Depot associates clocked in 550 volunteer hours, plus volunteer hours by groups from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, the Oak Harbor Fire Department, the Blue Fox Drive-In Theater and more.

Choir groups are also welcome to volunteer to sing at the event.

“The more the merrier,” Croft said.

To volunteer, sign up at www.ohchristmasvillage.com.

This is the first year the village will be held at Home Depot, a major sponsor for three years. In the past, the village was held at the Blue Fox Drive-In, the other major sponsor for the event. By moving the event into town, Croft said he hopes it will attract more people.

Soroptimist International of Oak Harbor started the tradition 28 years ago but stopped it in 2005.

“In 2009, we were able to bring it back with the help of the Blue Fox Drive-In,” Croft said, adding that without Darrell and Lori Bratt, owners of the Blue Fox Drive-In, there wouldn’t be a Christmas Village.

Croft wanted to bring the Christmas Village back because he has fond memories of visiting the village as a child and he wants to pass along the opportunity to other children.

Kesler and Croft agreed that their favorite childhood memories of the village included the petting zoo. This year, children can pet pygmy goats, horses, ducks, sheep and maybe alpacas and a donkey.

Families can make memories by meeting Mrs. Claus, a gingerbread man, an elf and have their photos taken while enjoying hot apple cider, cookies and hot cocoa.

The goal is to brighten more than 1,100 children’s holidays, Croft said. Last year, 860 children sat on Santa’s lap, Croft said.

“My goal as the store manager is to give back to the community as much as possible, and Home Depot allows me that opportunity,” Croft said. The village is Home Depot’s 19th community project this year. They totaled 17 projects last year, Croft said.

Admission is free. Donations of money or nonperishable food items will go to the North Whidbey Help House.

Also sponsoring the event are Diamond Rentals, Skagit Famers Supply, the Oak Harbor Fire Department, 4-H, Honeymoon Bay Roasters and the Dutch Maid.

Santa will make a showing at the Home Depot children’s workshop on Saturday, Dec. 3 from 9 a.m. to noon. Children can get creative and make snowmen for free.

 

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