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Christmas Bureau starts to take shape

Throughout the morning Friday, volunteers blew up hundreds of basketballs and glow-in-the-dark soccer balls, bolted handles to Spider-Man skateboard-scooters, and unpacked sleds, anticipating a big demand for those toys and thousands of others when the Christmas Bureau opens Monday morning at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center.

Volunteers of America provides about 18,000 children’s books so every needy child will get a new book as well as a new toy. VOA director Marilee Roloff spent Friday organizing several thousand titles by age group. “We have some classic titles this year,” she said. “Books like ‘The Yearling’ and ‘Charlotte’s Web’ will go early.”

Friday was the second of two long setup days at the fairgrounds. Volunteers stocked an array of toys in the toy rooms – actually, the rooms are created with big blue tarps hung from a skeleton of PVC pipes. Others nailed together wooden pallets to create a fence to guide traffic. The computer network was built and tested, and carpet remnants were duct-taped to the concrete floor in the child-care area.

By noon, more than 200 volunteers gathered for orientation, and bureau Chairman Bruce Butler reviewed the guidelines. “We will welcome everyone here. If they are willing to come here and stand in line in the cold, they need help. They will leave with a voucher and toys for the children.”

The other side of this charity is the fund-raising effort of The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund. Donations totaling $4,320.42 for today’s tally bring the Christmas Fund total to $31,178.98. More is needed, of course; the goal is $500,000. The economy is sluggish, and donations are lagging behind where they were last year on a comparable date, when the fund total was already more than $46,500.

Donations of all amounts are welcome and will be taken through Dec. 30.

Following are today’s donations and donors. Online donations, which are subject to a processing fee, are noted by an asterisk. The amount listed is the donation after the fee.

Proland, LLC, of Spokane, sent $1,000.

Don and Mariann Heinemann, of Spokane, donated $500. Douglas and Betsy Hammond, of Spokane, donated $500 in memory of Jack and Betty Hammond. Drs. Mark and Janine Johnson, of Spokane, also donated $500.

Dr. and Mrs. John Jenkins, of Spokane, donated $250.

Catherine Shields, of Spokane, sent $200.

Helen Bell, of Spokane, gave $150.

Amy Cannata donated $121.37* in memory of her grandmother, Teresa Risse.

Elinor Iverson donated $100, as did Stanley Sargent, and Eileen Peters, all of Spokane. Lowell and Shirley Mouser, of Otis Orchards, sent $100, as did Georgia Schneider, of Spokane. Sarah and Frank Wasicek Jr., of Spokane, sent $100 in memory of their parents, Viktoria and Frank Wasicek, and Martina and Jerome Chandler.

Ralph and Sandra Laws, of Cheney, sent $50, as did Kris Spelman, of Spokane, in memory of her great-aunt Elsie Altin and grandmother, Violet Burgunder. Tim and Marcia Dorwin, of Spokane, also sent $50, as did Dick and Ann Collins, of Spokane, an anonymous donor, of Spokane, and an anonymous donor, of Spokane Valley.

Beatrice Scheele, of Spokane, donated $35.

Lynn Mounsey, of Spokane, gave $25, as did Joyce Graham, of Spokane, and Laroy and Joan Sanders, of Cheney. Gloria, of Spokane Valley, donated $25, “in honor of my sweetheart, Pete.”

Zella Munden gave $23.97.*

Jacqueline Eide, of Odessa, Wash., sent $20.

An anonymous donor sent $10.

Three-year-old Kerry Sands sent $9.41* from her piggy bank. And an anonymous donor donated 67 cents.*

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