For the second year, River Jensen, left, and her mom Anna Larsen plan to use stockings for River’s Christmas Project to supply toiletries to local homeless people and others in crisis. River, now 16, started the project seven years ago. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

For the second year, River Jensen, left, and her mom Anna Larsen plan to use stockings for River’s Christmas Project to supply toiletries to local homeless people and others in crisis. River, now 16, started the project seven years ago. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

River’s Christmas Project asks for support to supply stockings

SEQUIM — There have been plenty of reasons to stop or take a break — the loss of her father, COVID-19 and/or the busy schedule of growing up — but River Jensen plans to keep on supporting local homeless people and those in crisis.

Through “River’s Christmas Project” the last seven years, the now 16-year-old Sequim High junior gathers toiletries, winter hats, gloves and other items to share with various area agencies prior to Christmas.

Jensen said that though she’s not the little kid anymore who started the project at age 10 with her mom Anna Larsen’s help, she appreciates people still giving, particularly those who’ve been generous since the beginning.

“My (former) bus driver has been giving since Day One, and makes the effort to drop them (off with me),” Jensen said. He came to her nomination lunch for Sequim’s Citizen of the Year in 2017, and her dad’s funeral, too.

Larsen’s friend helps make and donate knitted beanies as well.

“They’re the biggest hit; people love them,” Larsen said.

Jensen said she gave out more than 800 stockings last year, but this year she and her mom say they’re trailing behind previous years in toiletry donations so they’re adding a few different ways to help.

How to help

• Donate online at Gofundme: gofundme.com/f/rivers-christmas-project-toiletry-drive.

• Dropoff toiletries at Keller Williams Olympic, 244 W. Washington St., Sequim (cash/checks also accepted); and Spotlight Tanning, 715 E. First St., Port Angeles.

• Contact Anna Larsen about River’s Christmas Project, at 360-912-2175 or annajensen99@gmail.com; a web link for a wishlist on Amazon can be emailed, too.

Some of the needed items include travel-sized shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, socks, hat, gloves, combs and other miscellaneous toiletries.

Because of health precautions during the pandemic, Jensen and her family dropped off stockings/bags with agencies, but this year they might be able to hand some out depending on the group, she said.

Each stocking will include a handwritten note, such as “You are loved” or “Don’t lose hope.”

One of the highlights through years of doing this, Jensen said, was meeting someone who kept a note through the years.

The mother and daughter said they set a tentative deadline of next Saturday, Dec. 10, for donations to give them enough time to prepare all the stockings and drop them off before Christmas.

Jensen first started volunteering at age 6. She has stayed busy this winter as a member of the Sequim High School Bowling team, SHS Robotics Club, and entering the workforce as a busser/hostess at The House of Seven Brothers in 7 Cedars Casino.

For more information about River’s Christmas Project, email Larsen at annajensen99@gmail.com.

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Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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