You just know if it’s the day after Thanksgiving, it’s the start of the newspaper’s annual Christmas Fund.
For the 52nd consecutive year, Spokesman-Review readers are asked to play the role of the good Samaritan by helping our neighbors at Christmas.
According to the biblical story, a man was robbed and beaten and left for dead alongside the road. Several people walked past him, ignoring his plight. But not the man from Samaria. He helped the stranger who could not help himself.
That parable aptly describes thousands of Inland Northwest residents who - every year - stop their busy holiday schedules to write a check to help strangers in need at Christmas.
Last year, 2,878 donations were received from individuals, companies, clubs and groups. That’s an overwhelming number of good Samaritans for one community.
But this year will require that many and more.
The goal for the 1997 Christmas Fund is $425,000, up $25,000 from last year’s goal.
Before you gasp, here are some figures you should know.
Last year, $470,000 was raised to help 8,685 families enjoy Christmas Day.
Toys went to 13,660 children, and 12,257 adults received food vouchers to help buy Christmas groceries.
There are bound to be even more people applying for help this year, said Mike Ryan, director of Catholic Charities and head of the Christmas Bureau this year.
For instance, about 8,000 people from the former Soviet Union are now Spokane residents, living on very low incomes.
That’s twice as many as last year.
More people have called Catholic Charities and the Volunteers of America this year requesting help with their rent and utility bills, said Ryan and Marilee Roloff, VOA director.
Those two nonprofit agencies, with support from the Salvation Army, operate the Christmas Bureau.
With the recent federal welfare adjustments, some people have experienced a cut in food stamps, Ryan said, which depletes their meager monthly checks.
A family of a mother and one child receives about $440 a month, Ryan said. Of that amount, she would probably pay between $200 and $300 in rent.
That leaves nothing for such “emergencies” as Christmas.
That’s why we all need to help. People in such financial plight simply cannot do it alone.
This is how your donation works:
Every cent of every dollar donated to the Christmas Fund is used expressly for the poor.
There is no overhead. There are no salaries to pay. There is no rent to consider. Everything is donated, from those who help at the Christmas Bureau to the building that houses the bureau.
The money is used to buy toys for every child in every household, and for food vouchers to help families with Christmas dinner. Each family also gets a bag of hard candy.
It’s that simple.
The newspaper serves as the fund’s conduit.
All of the money is given to the nonprofit agencies, making your gift tax deductible.
Any money left over at the end of the drive is used for the next year’s fund. Toys are bought year ‘round. In quantity. At wholesale prices.
That’s why the quality of toys is high and the cost is low.
Like last year, there’s precious little time between now and Christmas Day. Only 28 days, to be exact. That’s not many days to raise so many dollars.
But we’ve done it before and we can do it again.
Won’t you please consider being a good Samaritan and helping our community’s poor this Christmastime?
They must feel as bruised and forsaken as that man centuries ago.
If you can help, please write your check to: The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund (or S-R Christmas Fund), 999 W. Riverside, P.O. Box 516, Spokane, WA 99210. Or, if you want, bring your gift to the newsroom on the fourth floor during normal business hours.
As the newspaper’s way of saying “Thank you,” the names, addresses and gift amounts of each donation will be printed in the paper.
If anonymity is requested, only the amount will be published.
A daily tally will be printed, accounting for all money received.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: WANT TO HELP? If you’d like to volunteer at the Christmas Bureau, you need to attend an orientation at 11:30 a.m., Dec. 5, at the former J.C. Penney Store at University City. To volunteer, call Catholic Charities, 358-4260; Salvation Army, 325-6814; or Volunteers of America, 624-2378.