Givers to The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund and their gifts are as diverse as the city’s population.
Contributors helping reach the fund’s very grand total of $453,838.80 ranged in size from one dollar to several thousand dollars.
As happens every year, there were times during this year’s drive when the goal of $425,000 seemed an impossible dream.
After all, there were only three weeks to collect that sum - an incredible amount of money to ask readers to donate so complete strangers could have a happier holiday.
A total of 2,773 contributions helped 8,378 families this year: 13,420 toys were opened by children on Christmas morning with your help, and $253,415 in food vouchers were issued to help buy holiday groceries.
The array of donors was as incredible as the total gift itself. Contributors crossed cultural, ethnic and economic lines:
Japanese students attending Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute once again collected money for the Christmas Fund before flying home across the Pacific Ocean.
Members of Temple Beth Shalom passed the plate to help unknown Gentiles enjoy a holiday they don’t observe.
Employees at Kimmel’s Athletic Supply, The Onion restaurants and Rings & Things “taxed” themselves through payroll deduction all year long to make sizable donations to the Christmas Fund. It’s a mind-boggling thing they do.
A recipient, homeless for much of the year, gave $3 of her limited income, believing that if everyone gave $3, no one would go without.
Children broke open their piggy banks to help other children.
Some gave in memory of Christmases during the Depression years. Some gave for the sheer joy of giving.
Grieving spouses, parents, relatives and friends remembered those who have died with gifts to the fund.
Two donors even remembered the Christmas Fund in their wills!
Reading the messages accompanying the contributions is a humbling experience. Some are heart-wrenching, some tickle the funny bone, some make you say, “Ohhhhh.”
They help put the hectic season in perspective.
Another $6,607.50 was received since the accounting books were temporarily closed on Dec. 24.
Once all the food vouchers and toy bills have been paid, any donations received after Dec. 30 and any funds left over from this year’s drive will be used as “seed money” for next year’s Christmas Fund. It will allow Christmas Bureau officials to buy toys on sale, at rock-bottom prices, getting the most possible for the least amount of money.
One factor repeated time and again with the donations is appreciation that every penny of every dollar is used only to buy toys, pay for vouchers and small sacks of Christmas candy for each family. None of the Christmas Fund money is ever used for overhead expenses. The building housing the Christmas Bureau is donated and those operating it are volunteers.
A correction to a gift received from Vicki Baker must be made. She donated $75, which was listed as $25. Please accept our apologies.
Contributors whose gifts helped this year’s drive but were received after Christmas Eve were:
An anonymous donation of $2,000; Inland Northwest Bank, 421 W. Riverside, gave $1,000 to “help brighten the holidays for those in need,” wrote Frederick Schunter, president and CEO.
The employees of Spokane Electrical Services Co., parent company of Rod’s Electric and Power City Electric, contributed $500; Dr. Steven Gregg, 508 W. Seventh, gave $300. Giving $200 were Mulvaney Roofing and General Contractor of Liberty Lake; George Nichols, 2929 S. Waterford Drive, who wrote, “It is a pleasure to send this check to a source that will put the donation to the right places.” There was also an anonymous $200 gift.
Margaret Isaak, 3715 N. Cannon, gave $150 in memory of her husband, Vic, her mother, Elizabeth Scott, daughter Ann Elizabeth Fredberg, and sister, Texi Slater. Richard Steury, Liberty Lake, gave $125.
Gifts of $100 came from Carol Brown and H. Douglas Spruance III; Leif and Sylvana Jensen, 3910 W. 40th; the Rettenmund family, 1022 E. 26th; William and Mary Lou Joseph, 4704 S. Keyes Court; Clark Architects, 216 W. Pacific; and four anonymous donors, including one gift in memory of the donor’s father, C.G. Rochon of Anaconda, Mont. The daughter wrote, “As a widowed father, he reared two motherless children by himself and taught us how to live and give.”
An anonymous gift of $90 was received, and an anonymous class at East Valley High School gave $52.50.
Gifts of $50 were from the Hansen family of Rick, Kari, Christopher (4), Chandler (2) and Chad, (7 months); and Ellen Houx, and Dick, Lola, Cody and Janelle Lile, “in memory of Robert L. Houx, a longtime supporter of this fund.”
Other contributions of $50 were given by Phyllis Johnson, 11905 E. 33rd; Phillip Hogue Jr., 1330 N. Washington; Wayne Johnston; Lyle and Rosalie Lueck, Anacortes, Wash.; the Kim Kirkpatrick family, in “memory of Jesse Persons who was a ‘local’ hero through his struggle for life in paralysis and an inspiration for all, even in his death. This 19-year-old was a true role model.”
There were three anonymous donors of $50, one to honor “all the wonderful women who are members of the Spokane Garry Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution,” and another who “had a little left over” after helping struggling family members.
Mike Yoke, 3425 S. Morrill Drive, gave $40, as did an anonymous donor; Gerald and Rae Almanza, 1404 E. 17th, gave $35, as did John and Shirley Riley, 6011 S. Napa. Mrs. C.W. Hanneman, 1801 E. Upriver Drive, a longtime fund supporter, gave $30.
Gifts of $25 were from the Frankoviches, 13722 E. 15th Lane; George and Nancy Beeman, 8514 N. Antietam Drive, gave $20 in Alex Shogren’s name, with $5 from Chris Beeman; Sondra Woods, Fairchild, gave “in honor of the wonderful bond of friendship I share with Julie Richmond. In her own words: ‘I have everything I need and what I do need can’t be bought.”’ Ralph and Ray Virene gave $20 “to remember our wonderful mother who just passed away - Irene Virene.”
There were two anonymous $20 gifts, including one from “a concerned inmate” at Airway Heights Correction Center, who wrote: “I have been truly blessed by our Lord and I want to share some of what he has given me. After all, he is the reason we celebrate Christmas.”
Nancy Hand gave $15, and the McCoy family in Veradale gave $10 “With best wishes for a good holiday season for all.”
Good closing words.