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Nextdoor.com brings wrapper to presents

Forest Grove subscribers to nextdoor.com — a social media site for neighborhoods — see lots of posts on lost cats, items for sale, police alerts and “Can anyone recommend a handyman?” requests. But this recent notice was unusual:NEWS-TIMES PHOTOS: JILL REHKOPF SMITH - Fresh from a yummy family dinner cooked by Cindy Emerson, Nicole Nowin (left) prepares to head back upstairs to wrap Christmas presents for Emersons daughters Hannah, 11, Emma, 9, and Cassie, 2 (in husband Dans arms).

“Hello! Do you hate wrapping Christmas presents? Well I love it! Feed me or pay me, the choice is yours, but I’ll wrap your presents for you.”

Wrapping presents is “the only artsy thing I do,” said Nicole Nowlin, who majored in International Business at Pacific University. Nowlin wraps about 90 percent of her parents’ Christmas presents — for 18 immediate family members — and last year wrapped presents for her landlord as well. This is the first year she offered the service to strangers.

“You can bring the presents and wrapping supplies to me or stick me in a room with Netflix,” she wrote on nextdoor.

Four people responded, including a woman who hadn’t yet told her husband about the arrangement before (for the first time ever) he surprised her by wrapping all the presents himself. Cindy Emerson, a Summa real estate agent, was the first “client” to welcome Nowlin to the home she shares with husband Dan and daughters Hannah, 11; Emma, 9; and Cassie, 2. Emerson said she jumped at the present-wrapping offer not just because this is a busy time of year for her, but also because “I am artistically challenged when it comes to wrapping a box.”

She has also been known to mix up tags, which is why — for a brief moment last Christmas — daughter Emma got two tablets while Hannah got none.

Before Nowlin arrived at her Oak Hill home, Emerson separated the 30-plus unwrapped presents into piles for each daughter, with tags denoting which family member each present came from.

At 5:30 p.m., Nowlin arrived and Emerson ushered her upstairs to Christmas Present Central, where a card table was set up in front of a big flat-screen TV.

Nowlin turned on Criminal Minds and got to work while Emerson went downstairs and cooked dinner — pork chops, mashed potatoes and broccoli with cheese.

When dinner was ready, Nowlin came down and joined the family, who all knew why she was there. Afterwards, she went back up and continued wrapping. Emerson put “Fantastic Four” on the TV for her and Nowlin added the last tag at about 9:30 p.m. — a 3.5-hour task, not counting dinner.

Nowlin would have been content with dinner alone, but Emerson was pleased enough to pay her a separate amount for the work.

The two women also chatted about how much they love nextdoor.com, which can not only alert them to suspicious characters in the neighborhood such as “the stalker guy” and “the prowler,” but can help muster volunteers for neighborhood events and even widen their social circle.

“It’s gotten me to know more of my neighbors,” Emerson said.

Friday night it gave her a pile of neatly wrapped Christmas presents for her daughters to start shaking and squeezing.

“Thank you Nicole !!!!!” Emerson posted on nextdoor.com. “So much stress removed! You did a great job!”