Incredible! That’s the best way to describe the generosity of The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund’s contributors.
A record-breaking $470,017.44 was raised for the 1996 drive to provide toys and food vouchers so our needy neighbors could enjoy a happy holiday.
The previous record, set last year, was $432,323.80.
Thanks to you, this season’s contributors, 8,685 families received help celebrating Christmas. Some 13,660 children opened a gift from Santa and 12,257 adults received food vouchers to help pay for a holiday meal.
You did all that through your gifts to the Christmas Fund. You have a right to be proud.
Not many communities are so generous, especially considering the drive’s short time this year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, to say nothing of everyone thawing out from that nasty ice storm.
A dear elderly woman wrote a thank-you note for her food voucher.
“Thank you kindly for my check again,” she wrote in her shaky handwriting. “Sure thought I’d not get it this year. Thought so many would need it worse. I am very careful and buy all I can through the plenty season to try to keep it so I don’t have to get out in the bad weather. Thanks always.”
A couple letters from unlikely donors captured the reason, the essence, of the Christmas Fund.
With a donation of $106, residents of Cornelius House Work Release wrote they supported the fund because their families have been on the receiving end.
“While we were incarcerated, an organization such as yours supported us by giving presents to our children as we were not able to do so ourselves.
“So now that we are making a positive transition back into our community, we wanted to end this year and begin the new year by giving back our support to this worthy cause.
“We know how it feels not to see that smile on a child’s face on Christmas morning.”
Darrick Brown wrote from the Airway Heights Correction Center: “Please accept my donation of $30 in hopes that it will help this year’s goal get met in time for Christmas …
“The residents of Spokane are lucky to have such caring neighbors and each other.”
The sentiment reflected in those three notes is what the Christmas Fund is all about.
And even though the Christmas Fund goal had been met, donations continued to arrive through Dec. 31. From Christmas Day through the end of 1996, receipts totaled $9,762.
Because of bookkeeping considerations, seven gifts totaling $992 will carry over to next year’s drive. But because they were received by Dec. 31, they are credited in this column.
Michael J. Kuhn, president and CEO of Dakotah Direct Inc., donated $3,500 “in honor of all our employees who have given us the inspiration to become involved in this community service.
“After four years in Spokane, this is our first time participating in this worthy cause. Reading the Christmas Fund column on Christmas Eve and seeing that the goal had not yet been made gave us the little nudge we needed to join in the community spirit.”
As is the Christmas Fund custom, any money left over after all expenses for the toys and food vouchers have been met will be used for the 1997 drive.
Mike Smith, Spokane-area district manager for Sprint PCS, wrote with the company’s $500 gift that they believe “a culture is defined by how well its people connect.”
The donation is the result of members attending the Spokane Area Chamber of Commerce’s December meeting and “connecting” with others via Sprint PCS phones. For each call made, the company added to its Christmas Fund gift total.
“We are very pleased to participate in the Christmas Fund this year - our first holiday in the Spokane area,” Smith wrote. “It is heartwarming to see how well the people of Spokane connect with those who are in need.”
Master Refrigeration Inc., 202 N. Skipworth, also gave $500.
Rather than exchange gifts this year, employees of Senor Froggy, Mexican Fast Food, 1702 E. Riverside, contributed $447 to a charity.
“I chose The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund because of your claims that all the money goes to the needy people,” wrote Lisa Hooke, bookkeeper.
Gale Burnett, 1403 N. Aladdin, gave $400, as did “four little Spokanites” - Lauren, Max, Colin and Chase, and their “Mimi.”
The staff of Family Home Care donated $341 with a note from Sandra J. Kramer, executive director, stating because of the nature of their business, they know “there are many in our community who need this help.”
Dick, Connie and Jessica Branch, 6503 W. Kitsap Drive, gave $250; gifts of $200 came from Dr. and Mrs. Walter Fernau, Mead; the Habbestads, 803 E. 26th; Bob and Jill Herman, 1618 S. Adams; and George and Arliss Williams, Veradale.
Contributions of $100 came from William Robinson, Spokane; M. Clark, Third Lake, Ill.; Tom, Bette, Katie and Ben Brattebo, in memory of their parents and grandparents; Mary Lou Joseph, 7404 S. Keyes Court; the Proutys, 315 W. Charlton; Samuel and Harriet Van Wyck, 6714 S. Meadows Road, “in honor of our Spokesman-Review newspaper carrier and our postal mail carriers who delivered to us faithfully on time and each day of the ice storm, just as they do when life is ‘normal.”’
Laurie Clein, 814 W. 29th, also gave $100, as did Kev, John and Michael Vorhees, with this note from Kev: “My brothers and I, for the third year in a row, are sending in $100 to the Christmas Fund. We do this each year to help the people of Spokane during the Christmas season. Thank you for sponsoring such a great program.”
Other $100 gifts came from Ben, Andrea and Tom in memory of Grandpa Paul and Grandma Trudy; Jeff and Yvonne Trudeau, 1024 E. 40th; David Martin and Ann Heylman Martin, 4808 W. Deska Drive; Wesbar Construction Co., 933 W. Third; and three anonymous donors, one in memory of the giver’s mother, who recently died, and another in memory of Gordy.
Students in English 261 at Spokane Community College donated $75; Jan and Jack Praxel with Kristin, Anna, Beth and Kaaren, gave $53, with this note: “A family that has light, heat, gifts and each other this Christmas to the many who are without.”
Gifts of $50 came from Jay and Janette Rudd, Veradale; the Dan Simonson family, 2607 S. Manito Blvd., “in loving memory of our Uncle Kent Simonson, who always made Christmas special for us all;” Gary Davis, 6414 E. 15th; Connie Loken, 12615 N. Fairwood Lane; and the Mike Edmunds family, 6711 N. Fleming, with this note: “In this most magical season, may those less fortunate find peace, love and joy.”
There were five anonymous donations of $50.
Rick Vanhoff donated $30 in his sister’s name - Jennifer Vanhoff, the note read. Earlier in the day, Rick’s brother, Barry Vanhoff, donated $25 in Rick’s name.
Other gifts of $30 came from Teresa Cooper, Spokane; Michael J. Cronin, Spokane; Carol Baker, 1005 S. Elm; and Chuck and Rosie O’Connor, 1115 E. 21st, “with thanks to our good friends, Tony and Carol Martin and family for help in thawing out from the ice storm.” There also was an anonymous donation of $30 “in warm memory of the Bear from her Cubs.”
Contributions of $25 came from the Beach family, 6518 E. 12th; William Bennett of William J. Bennett & Associates Inc., 917 W. Falcon, in memory of Troy Bennett; and one anonymous donation.
Giving $20 were the students in Homeroom 189 at Sacajawea Middle School; Julia Chapman, Deer Park, in memory of her husband, Stan; Carol Lewis, Mica, for her parents, Howard and Jackie Furman, who asked she donate to the Christmas Fund rather than buy them gifts. Wilson and Marylyn Stuckless, 224 N. Calvin, gave $20 as did Mr. and Mrs. D. Jayne, 8511 E. Upriver Drive.
Bobbie Hendrickson, 14717 E. Fourth gave $10; and gifts of $5 came from Jayne Moore, 4505 S. Morrill; Gary Remington, 2126 W. Pacific; and Pauline Smith, Spokane, who wrote:
“I think you are doing a wonderful service for the people who are in need. I am one of the fortunate ones. When I became too sick and crippled to take care of me or my home, my daughter and son-in-law came, picked up the things I just couldn’t part with, and moved me into their home. They both remarked, ‘This is your home now.’ I have a lovely room, good care and see the grandchildren and great-grandchildren often. Who could ask for more? …
“I will soon celebrate my 90th birthday and have seen the time that this (her $5 check) would have looked like $50 to us - and how I wish this could be $50.
“God bless all of you who have any part of this blessed service.”