Every Friday for the past six years, Ferne Skidmore and her friends have gotten together to sew Christmas stockings.
Last year we made over 3,000, believe it or not,” Skidmore said.
Come Christmastime, they stuff the stockings with small treats and knick-knacks and give them to underprivileged kids.
“We just give them to anybody who asks for them,” Skidmore said. “You just ask us for them and we’ll give them to you.”
And for six years, Skidmore’s Christmas Stockings Project has used her community clubhouse. Earlier this year, however, the Velda Rose Estates homeowners’ association (Arizona) decided to kick Skidmore and her friends out.
“The [HOA] president stood in the doorway and he said, ‘You can’t come in,'” Skidmore said.
The reason? The HOA voted to designate the Christmas Stockings Project a religious organization and HOA bylaws prohibit any clubhouse use by religiously affiliated groups.
“We are not religiously affiliated,” Skidmore, adding that the group works with both churches and non-religious charities. “But I couldn’t find anything in the CC&Rs that said we could be thrown out if we were [religious].”
Now Skidmore is fighting back. She took $550 out of her air-conditioner fix-it fund to pay the filing fee for an appeal to the state agency that regulates HOA disputes – the Arizona Department of Fire, Building and Life Safety.
“I was a little perturbed about it because I didn’t think it was quite the right way to treat a bunch of little old ladies doing a good thing,” she said.
HOA President Roger Walklin, reached by phone Tuesday evening, said he couldn’t comment due to the ongoing legal dispute.
Skidmore said she just wants to keep making stockings.
“I don’t ask for anything,” she said. “I’m not suing anybody. I just want the use of the clubhouse. We just have fun and I think we’re doing a good thing.”
There’s a hearing on this matter scheduled for Aug. 13.
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