Tag Archives: Christmas

Random acts, firefighters and you

Were you one of the people at Fred Meyer Monday evening as South Kitsap firefighters and paramedics randomly paid customers’ tabs at the checkout counters?

Here are excerpts of the story about their generosity that will run in tomorrow’s paper. When you’re done reading, I hope you’ll comment on random acts of kindness and generosity you’ve witnessed (or received) this holiday season.

SK firefighters pay it forward for Christmas
By Chris Henry
SOUTH KITSAP — Shoppers at Port Orchard’s Fred Meyer were surprised Monday to see South Kitsap Fire & Rescue firefighters hanging around the checkout stands, randomly stepping up to pay for people’s groceries.
“The look on their face was just priceless and melted my heart,” wrote checker Tawnya Erickson, in a conversation in the Port Orchard Facebook group. “The look in their eyes was just filled with joy and thankfulness! I was pleased to be a part of it.”
This is the third year in a row the South Kitsap Professional Firefighters, a union of firefighters and paramedics, has organized spontaneous acts of kindness in the three days before Christmas, according to Battalion Chief Jeff Faucett.
South Kitsap Fire & Rescue doesn’t actively take part but condones the event by allowing on duty firefighters to participate in the gifting — as long as there’s not a fire or other emergency.
This year’s effort was spearheaded by Firefighter Eddie Lange of Station 31, Faucett said.
The union allocates money for each shift of firefighters and paramedics, and each shift decides how to dispense the boon, which they wield in the form of prepaid Visa cards. In a previous year, one shift hosted Shop-with-a Firefighter, for example.
“They call it their three days of random acts of kindness,” Faucett said. “It’s kind of been a cool little thing they do.”
Faucett added he’s heard of other fire departments doing similar forms of drive-by gifting.
Chiefs are in a different union, but Faucett, when he was still part of the professional firefighters group, had a hand in the generosity, paying it forward for customers at a local Albertson’s store. He still remembers the reactions he got.
“They’re blown away. Some people are like, ‘Are you serious?’” Faucett said. “It’s good for the community when we pull together. You don’t know any history. You don’t know why they’re there. You don’t know what’s going on in their life.”
Tell us about random acts of kindness you’ve seen this holiday season by visiting the Kitsap Sun’s Peninsular Thinking blog, http://pugetsoundblogs.com/peninsular-thinking/; click on the “Random Acts” post. And have a Merry Christmas.”

Merry Christmas from all of us at the Kitsap Sun!

Making little of Christmas

Some people go for Christmas in a big way. In the case of this Shelton couple you might say they make little of Christmas … big time.

Here’s a story written by our freelance reporter Arla Shepard for our North Mason publication about Steve and Roxie Martinell, who create a miniature wonderland in their home, and open it to the public during the holidays. The couple is shooting for a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

You can visit the Martinells’ amazing collection for yourself and take in another miniature display at the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island (details below).

Christmas is everyone’s favorite holiday in the Martinell household.
For about 30 days, from Halloween to Thanksgiving, Steve and Roxie Martinell work hard at transforming their Shelton home into a winter wonderland.
This year, they’re planning to enter their annual Christmas village, a miniature display of the holiday season, into the Guinness Book of World Records.
The display includes between 250 and 300 miniature homes, as well as post offices, railroad stations and movie theaters. There are also miniature people, a forest, the North Pole and a carnival.
The display totals about 2,500 pieces in all.
Screen shot 2013-12-10 at 11.06.37 AM
“My favorite part is seeing the kids’ eyes light up when they see it for the first time,” said Roxie Martinell, who collects and sets up the pieces each year. “We like doing it for the kids.”
The couple of 38 years have three sons and 14 grandchildren, but they also open up their home to the public during the month of December, offering hot chocolate and cookies to people who want to stop by and marvel at the village.
The tradition started many years ago, as a simple display beneath the Christmas tree, Roxie Martinell recalled.
As the years passed, the display grew larger, soon outgrowing a table display that the couple put up every year for their family.
In 1990, the couple decided to open up the Christmas village to the public for the first time, and since then the collection has increased in size and popularity.
“The table just got bigger and bigger,” said Steve Martinell, who now spends two to three days building a platform each year for the display. “People saw what we had and started to give us some more. We’ve got a lot of houses we can’t put up because we have too many.”
This year, Steve Martinell strung up between 28,000 to 30,000 lights outside their home, about 3,000 more lights than he put up last year.
Roxie Martinell enlisted the help of her son, Jeremy Martinell, and her grandchildren to set up the indoor miniature wonderland.
“It can be scary because there’s pieces out here that can’t be replaced, but it’s mostly fun,” Roxie Martinell said. “It’s a family thing that we can all do together.”
The family matriarch can remember nearly every piece that she owns, so there are no duplicates on display.
When she does receive an extra collectible, she often gives it to a friend.
Screen shot 2013-12-10 at 11.06.19 AM
About 500 people visit the home in December to see the lights and the display. Some are friends, and many are regulars that come back every year, Steve Martinell said.
The couple would like to set the record for largest miniature Christmas Village display. They can’t find an existing record and are working with a representative from the Guinness Book of World Records to have it verified.
The process can take up to six weeks, Steve Martinell said.
While their children have asked when they’ll start charging people, Steve Martinell said the couple has no plans to put a price on the Christmas display.
“It brings us happiness and joy,” he said.

The Christmas Village is open from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday throughout December. The address is East 161 Johns Creek Drive in Shelton.

Bloedel Reserve Miniature Display
What: “Intricately designed, hand-made buildings and whimsical trains create holiday memories for years to come. With the Visitor’s Center decked to the nines, and cider simmering, it becomes an experience for the senses.”
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily (except Mondays) through Jan. 5
Cost: Included with admission to the Reserve; adults, $13; seniors/military, $9; students 13 and older, $5. Children 12 and younger are free.

Musical Guests:
Dec. 14 from 1 to 2 p.m., The IslandWood Forest Chorus will carol in the Visitor’s Center. The chorus is an informal group of IslandWood staff, graduate students and docents.
Dec. 15 from noon to 1 p.m., singers from Grace Church will carol in the Visitor’s Center.

Christmas Eve photo shoot, the outtake

I was asked to take a photo for tomorrow’s Kitsap Sun at the Family Christmas Eve Service for toddlers and very young children at Adventure of Faith church in South Kitsap.

This was the first year the church had tried such a service. Children were asked to choose a simple costume – shepherd, angel or wise man. And they were invited up onstage at different points in the service.

“It’s an opportunity for families with young children to celebrate a Christmas Eve service they can be a part of,” said Don Dilley, director of music and worship.

Now, there’s my idea of going to church … wander around wherever you want and just let it all hang out.

I didn’t get this little girl’s name, but she was the life of the party … one of several animated toddlers who welcomed Baby Jesus in their own way.

Or as Pastor John Foreman said, “All our children, no matter what costume they wear, are angels.”

However you like to celebrate the holiday, I hope I all goes well for you and your family. Merry Christmas to all, from Peninsular Thinking.

Heads Up: Thanksgiving at MoonDogs

Well now, ya can’t beat this deal. For the fourth year in a row, Darryl Baldwin and the staff of MoonDogs Too will host a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for $1. Baldwin and his staff have put on the spread – cooked on site and featuring local meats, produce and breads – since 2007.

Proceeds go to South Kitsap Helpline, and yes, you can give more than $1 if you’re so moved. In fact, please do. Last year, MoonDogs raised more than $1,500 and collected more than 500 pounds of nonperishable food. (Due to Helpline’s move to the Port Orchard Nursery property, they can’t accept clothing this year.)

MoonDogs will be collecting donations for Helpline through Dec. 31.

In 2009, the dinner drew 350 guests. Baldwin is expecting 450 this year. “Every year we’ve doubled,” he said.

As we reported in 2009, volunteers from the community help make the buffet dinner a success. Baldwin has enough helpers for Thanksgiving, but he’s still recruiting volunteers for an encore Christmas dinner.

Oh, and if you need a ride to MoonDogs, just give the restaurant a jingle before the day of the dinner, and they’re make arrangements.

Thanksgiving dinner is 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Nov. 25 at MoonDogs, Too, 714 Bay St., Port Orchard; (360) 895) 2300.

Chris Henry, reporter