“A Christmas miracle!”
That’s how Rich Silva, community services coordinator with the Salvation Army, described response to the 1995 Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund.
The Christmas Fund raised $432,323.80 - a record amount - given by 3,100 donors.
“That kind of response really says a lot about the character of our neighbors in this community,” said Ken Trent, executive director of the Volunteers of America and chief director of the Christmas Bureau, which distributes toys and food vouchers purchased by the fund.
“It says we are a caring community - and it’s demonstrated,” Trent said.
“We are a community second to none,” said Silva.
“I am constantly amazed at the ability of our community to respond when the chips are down,” he said. “They come back stronger than before - almost overwhelming in response. They dig deep, deeper and deepest.”
That’s certainly what happened with the 1995 Christmas Fund drive.
You - all 3,100 of you - dug deepest this year.
During the drive’s first days, the goal of $380,000 seemed an impossible dream. There was no way to raise that kind of money in this kind of economy, many people thought.
How wrong we were.
We underestimated our neighbors’ capacity for TLC tender, loving care.
The Inland Northwest must have the largest TLC factor in the nation.
You bought 13,438 toys for that many children; you provided food vouchers to help 8,392 families buy Christmas groceries. Altogether, 26,077 adults and children benefited from our city’s Christmas cheer.
Those are impressive figures.
Just imagine 13,438 Spokane area children standing in line to receive a toy. The image that comes to mind is poor, hungry Oliver Twist holding up his empty gruel bowl pleading, “More please.”
The number of children who received toys thanks to your contributions is larger than the population of many nearby towns. For some of those children, the Christmas Fund gift was the only toy they received.
All of them say “thank you” to the neighbors they don’t know who helped make their Christmas Day happier.
Their parents are grateful, too, for the food vouchers which allowed them to buy a turkey or ham for dinner or ingredients for Christmas cookies.
Now, Christmas Day has come and gone and we’re in a new year - but your generosity long will be remembered in the hearts of those who received help.
Your caring cannot be overestimated.
Thanks also come from everyone who worked on the drive.
Time and again, contributors express appreciation that the fund pays no overhead expenses, that every cent of every donated dollar goes to its intended purpose of helping people.
For 50 years, the newspaper has collected money to help neighbors in need. For the past several years, officials of three non-profit agencies - Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army and Volunteers of America - have disbursed the money in the form of toys for children and food vouchers for families.
Any money left over from the 1995 drive will be used as a head start for the 1996 campaign.
Also, any money received after Dec. 28 will be put in the 1996 fund.
Contributions totaling $10,533 were received after Dec. 22, the drive’s last official day, and are included in the 1995 total.
The Seattle Mariners hit a home run with a $5,000 donation to the Christmas Fund.
“On behalf of Mariners Care, a non-profit foundation dedicated to serving youth in the Pacific Northwest, it is my pleasure to enclose a check for $5,000,” wrote Charles G. Armstrong, president.
How ‘bout those Mariners!
The new owners of Patsy Clark’s restaurant, 2208 W. Second, challenged their staff to raise $500 for the Christmas Fund, which they would match dollar for dollar.
A check was hand-delivered for $1,080, with a note saying, “We hope that our contribution will help the people of Spokane have a brighter and happier Christmas.”
There also was a $1,000 anonymous gift and a $500 gift from Utah with this note: “Few charities make giving so attractive by charging not a penny to administration and other overhead.”
One donor requesting anonymity gave $250, and another contributed $200 “in memory of our parents who always wanted every child to have a happy Christmas.”
John Jr. and Sharon Cannon gave $200, and Bayliner, 18001 E. Euclid, contributed $150.
Gifts of $100 came from Tim Reynolds, Mountain View, Calif.; Gary and Debra Friberg, Colbert; C.M. and Alice Follevaag, 700 W. Seventh; Ruth Crossett, “in loving memory of my husband, Bill”; Curt Peterson, 2518 N. Dick Road; Geraldine Odell, 4254 E. 22nd; Wynn and Roy Finck, 3119 W. 22nd; Linda and Timothy Williams, 210 W. 36th; John Gaiser, 1811 E. 51st; and three anonymous donors.
Phillip, Sally, Amy, Erin, Heather, Heidi, Liberty, Ryan and Shay, the staff at Empire Dance Shop, 214 S. Post, gave $89; Paula Durgan, 6903 Skyline, gave $75, as did Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corp. retirees.
Donations of $50 came from Edward and Sandra Crosby, 12821 E. Maxwell; Guy Carroll and Dawnelle Shaw; the Klobuchers, Dan, Lorraine, Farrah and Bree, Chattaroy; Laurence Bolks, 12912 E. 12th; Ben Haberman, 4112 E. 35th; and Bruce and Jayne Walker, in memory of Wayne B. Walker.
Alyssa Akins, a 10-year-old girl from Colbert, sent $50 with this note: “I wish for this money to go to a child who would like a Christmas toy this year. Merry Christmas!”
William and Donna Stewart, 418 W. 33rd, gave $50 “in loving memory of Albert and Anna Lindquist Olson.
Mike Yoke, 3425 S. Morrill Drive, gave $40.
Gayle and Kent Higgins, Newman Lake, wrote, “Please accept this $30 in memory of my mother, Gayle Ross-Trainor. She donated for years to your fund, and I’d like to restart this tradition. It’s a wonderful community of sharing.”
Two anonymous donors also gave $30. Contributions of $25 came from R.W. Boswell, 4503 N. Belt; Dorothy McClure, “in memory of Jerry Camp Sr., an old LaCrosse High School friend”; Ruth Krum, 1604 E. 34th; Gil McGlocklin, Greenacres, in memory of his brother, Kenneth; and Betty Thompson, 7129 N. Drumheller.
Contributing $20 were Annie Olson, 22606 E. Heroy; D.A. and P.M. Christenson, 12522 N. Meadowlark; and Mr. and Mrs. William McGarry, Liberty Lake.
Kathleen Schmidt, 11910 E. Broadway, made a $15 contribution in memory of “a great man and treasured friend who died this year … Marty Golden of Coeur d’Alene. I miss him and the way he used to call me ‘Red.”’
Two young boys, Matt and Mitch Douglas, Spirit Lake, Idaho, emptied their savings of $15 “in hopes you can find a boy or girl a present for Christmas.”
A gift of $13.75 was donated anonymously. Steve Rhodes and Ruth Stevens of the Washington State Council of County and City Employees, AFSCME AFL/CIO, each gave $10; and three people requesting anonymity gave $5.25, $4 and $1.
To quote Charles Dickens one last time:
“‘God bless us, every one,’ said Tiny Tim, the last of all.”