November 30, 1997 in Nation/World

Christmas Fund 1997 Share The Wealth To Enrich Holiday Charity Defuses Commercialization Of Season

Beverly Vorpahl Staff writer
 
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For years, people have complained about Christmas being too commercial. Slogans have been coined to remind frenzied shoppers of the season’s reason.

It is easy to get caught up in the fervor of buying, planning, buying, shopping, buying, decorating, buying, baking, buying …

Here’s an idea: Brew yourself a cup of tea, play Christmas music on your stereo, put your feet up and reexamine your own Christmas list.

Many contributions to The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund arrive with notes saying Uncle Frank requested money be given to the Christmas Fund rather than buying him one more necktie; or, Aunt Martha said she truly doesn’t need another single thing and would much rather a donation be made to the Christmas Fund in her name.

So, if there are folks on your list who would be happy making someone else happy, consider a contribution in their names.

The Christmas Fund’s goal this year is $425,000, which will make thousands of people happy on Christmas Day. Money can buy happiness sometimes - when it’s a toy for a child, a turkey for dinner, or ingredients for cookies.

When you don’t have enough money, it doesn’t take much to bring a modicum of happiness.

While Clarence Colby lived, he supported the Christmas Fund every year. And, when he died in 1981, he had a trust set up so a gift would be made each year in his memory. What a wonderful way to be remembered.

A $1,161.71 check from the Colby Memorial Fund was received after the Christmas Fund account was closed last year, giving a great start to this year’s drive.

His contribution was part of the $2,678.71 totaled Saturday, for a grand total so far of $4,207.68.

These early gifts were received too late for last year’s drive and were banked as a seed for the ‘97 drive.

Last year, the Wendle Nissan Co. pledged $100 for each Nissan sold during December. The company donated $2,000 in anticipation of the number of cars they expected to sell. Then, come Jan. 8, another check for $800 arrived, “The balance of our commitment to The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund,” wrote spokesman Chud Wendle.

“We at Wendle Nissan were very proud to contribute to a great cause,” he wrote. “We appreciate the fact that this cause not only has benefits that stay within our community but also is a cause that turns over 100 percent of its contributions to the needy in Spokane.”

Other contributors from last year include $200 gifts from Dr. Bruce H. Dentler, 7307 N. Division, and Les and Theresa Kile, 5304 N. Washington.

Patricia Banks, spokeswoman for Columbia Lighting, wrote in a letter dated Jan. 31 with a $120 donation: “We’re either a little late or extremely early.” The company sold entertainment books to its employees, with profits for the Christmas Fund.

M. Clark, Third Lake, Ill., mailed a check for $100; $60 was received with this note: “A gift to whoever needs it, from Tim, Zach, Nick, Krissia, Hanna (and) Rachel Hensley,” 3725 S. Sherman Road. The Washington Federation of State Employees gave $32; and Jayne Moore, 4505 S. Morrill, gave $5.

The fact that nothing is used for overhead expenses is appreciated by Christmas Fund donors. Every bit of every gift goes to buy toys and to pay for food vouchers so low-income families can enjoy Christmas.

There are no salaries to pay since all the work is done by volunteers; there is no building to rent, since it’s donated.

All of the money collected by the newspaper is given to Catholic Charities and the Volunteers of America, which operates the Christmas Bureau with the Salvation Army.

Because the money goes to nonprofit agencies, all contributions are tax deductible.

Here is how the Christmas Bureau operates: From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., weekdays, from Dec. 10 through Dec. 23, low-income families can go to the former J.C. Penney store in U-City to receive a toy for each child in their family who is 18 or younger, and a food voucher to help with Christmas groceries.

Those applying for help need to bring with them proof of identity (photo ID, driver’s license or passport), proof of residence (a utility bill or rent receipt) and proof of the number of people in their family. It’s important to include everyone, because family size determines the amount of the food vouchers.

The vouchers, redeemable at most supermarkets, vary from $20 for a single person, to $50 for a family of seven or more.

It’s all done in one stop. Volunteers enter the applicants’ information into a computer and issue the food vouchers and bags of Christmas candy. The parents are then shown into a room filled with toys and games for children of all ages. The parents select what they think their children would enjoy.

The toys, bought in bulk at bargain prices all year, are of high quality. The late Ken Trent, director of the Christmas Bureau for more than 20 years, insisted the toys be on a par with those children from more affluent families would receive.

If you can help make someone else’s Christmas a little happier this year, please send a check to: The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund (or S-R Christmas Fund), Fourth Floor Newsroom, P.O. Box 516, 999 W. Riverside, Spokane, WA 99210.

Or, if you prefer, you can drop your gift off with the security guards in the Review Tower lobby, or deliver it to the newsroom.

, DataTimes

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