'Operation Hands On' helping many


by By / KING 5 News


Posted on August 15, 2009 at 1:43 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 28 at 12:13 PM

Video: Operation Hands On helps anyone in need

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. - Larry Nelthropp and his wife Christie wanted to raise money to help a few less fortunate families.

But they had no idea how many people they'd end up helping.

The couple watched hours of coverage from Hurricane Katrina and something clicked.

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"My wife said to me 'we need to do something to help Katrina families,'" Larry said.

They formed Operation Hands On to help a few families find housing, and had no real plan to do anything else. But something magical happened in University Place.

They started small in just a 500-square-foot space and they have grown into a 25,000-square-foot facility.

Volunteers came out of the woodwork and people donated all sorts of items. So much so that the Nelthropps' little idea is now a major non-profit organization helping anyone in need.

"Last October we went over 500 families," Larry Nelthropp said.

Larrie Fletcher got an apartment full of furniture free of charge.

"This place is a new blessing," he said.

And single mother Jamie Hayward - who also went through a rough patch - got free clothes, furniture, and diapers for her and her five boys.

"It's like being in a candy store, being like a little kid all over again," she said.

The Nelthropps - who have retired from their full-time jobs - say the smiling faces keep them going.

Operation Hands On is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.