One of the most popular volunteers at the Christmas Bureau wears a Santa hat. Some of the needy children who come to the charity think she is Mrs. Claus.
She’s not. She’s Scooter Mahoney and, according to bureau chairman Bruce Butler, she is the volunteer who clocks the most hours for this community effort.
During the two weeks the bureau is distributing toys, children’s books and food vouchers to needy people, Mahoney sits at the computer table printing the food vouchers. But starting in September, she recruits and schedules the more than 230 other volunteers it takes to run the operation.
After the bureau closes on Dec. 17, she will spend another two to three months balancing the charity’s books and reimbursing area grocery stores for the vouchers they have honored. She does it all for free.
“It’s like balancing a checkbook in which you have thousands and thousands of checks coming in,” she said during a break from her volunteer duties at the bureau Wednesday afternoon.
She can only balance that charity checkbook, of course, if the other end of the charity, the Christmas Fund, comes through with money to pay the bills. Generous donors are doing just that. Donations of $30,734 in Wednesday’s tally brought the Christmas Fund to $118,255.30.
The Metals Fabrication Co., of Spokane, sent $5,000 and a note: “We appreciate the efforts of all the organizations and volunteers who come together to make the Christmas season just a little more cheerful for area individuals and families with financial difficulties. Please accept this gift on behalf of Metals Fabrication Company and all of our employees,” wrote company president Todd E. Weaver.
Kent and Linda Hull, of Colbert, also brought $5,000 to the newspaper. These donations are part of the monthlong effort to raise $500,000 to buy toys and pay for holiday dinners for the area’s needy families.
The bureau was open until 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, longer hours than normal so the working poor have an opportunity to get the fixings of Christmas. The computer system was fixed by the time the bureau opened and volunteers entered the data from Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, the bureau distributed 1,513 food vouchers totaling $46,970, serving 2,549 adults, and distributed toys and books to 2,818 children. The bureau, in the first three days, has distributed $110,675 in food vouchers and given toys to 6,391 needy children.
“I gave a $15 voucher and a bag of candy today to a single man and he just said, ‘Oh, thank you so much. Thank you.’ It is so humbling,” Mahoney said. “Some people feel so embarrassed that they have to ask for this or they will say they never had to do this before. They feel like they have to explain.”
They don’t, of course. The toys and food vouchers distributed at the bureau are the community’s gift to the poor. It’s very simple: Generous readers donate to the Christmas Fund, the money raised is used to buy the toys and pay for vouchers, and these are distributed at the bureau.
The bureau will be open today and Friday, and again Dec. 13-17. The Christmas Fund will welcome donations of all amounts toward its goal of $500,000 through Dec. 30. Following are donations received and the donors:
Charles Haywood, of Spokane, gave $1,000 in memory of Alice Haywood. Two anonymous donors, both of Spokane, each gave $1,000. Ann and Greg Hougham, also of Spokane, donated $1,000.
Michael Flannery and Dean Lynch, of Spokane, donated $650 in memory of their fathers, Frances E. Flannery and Gordon Lynch.
The members of the Association of Retired Avista Employees made donations at their December meeting totaling $557.
Mark and Valerie Sonderen, of Spokane, donated $500, as did Richard and Carol Hendershot, of Spokane, and an anonymous donor, also of Spokane.
The Roy and Leona Nelson Foundation, of Spokane, sent $500 and a note: “Mostly the Nelson Foundation gives college scholarships, but we also give to a few local charities. This year the directors have voted to give to the Christmas Fund,” wrote foundation treasurer Don Peters. The Nelsons’ wealth came from mining stocks, Peters noted.
Helen Mitchell and Sally Gregerson, of Spokane, donated $400, as did Fred and Norrine Potts, of Spokane Valley; and an anonymous donor, of Greenacres. An anonymous donor of Spokane donated $400 “in memory of a loving mother and wonderful husband.”
John Baumhofer, of Spokane, donated $350 in memory of his mother.
Selma and Eugene Young, of Spokane, gave $305.
Virginia and Ed English, of Spokane, donated $300, as did Rita and Gilbert Doran, of Spokane.
James Koppa, of Spokane Valley, sent $250, “for those less fortunate than us.” Thomas and Thelma Smith, of Veradale, also donated $250.
Gust Abariotes, of Spokane Valley, sent $200, as did Lowell and Marion Severud, of Spokane; Sandra Hatch, of Spokane; R.A. and V.H. Bedford, of Spokane; and an anonymous donor, also of Spokane. John and Elizabeth Mertens, of Spokane Valley, donated $200 in lieu of buying family gifts.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, gave $151.
Donna and Don Hares, of Spokane, gave $150, as did Robert and Robin Simpson, Rick and Sharon Myers, and Bill Bell, all of Spokane; and Catherine and Douglas Dixon, of Deer Park. A donation of $150 came from Milt Echelbarger, Peggy and Ralph Rau, Ben and Nancy Echelbarger, Jason Echelbarger, Jodie and Damon Dewey and Dawn and Kevin Smathers in memory of Fay Echelbarger,
The Jones family, of Veradale, donated $150 in memory of Marybelle Clark and Evelyn Phillips. Erlene Manning, of Spokane, gave $150 in memory of her husband, George Manning, and her sister, Marilyn Cain.
Gerald and Marianne Fischer, of Spokane, gave $150 in honor of the third- and sixth-grade teachers of Assumption Parish School.
Solomon and Louise Hill, of Spokane Valley, sent $130.
Marcia and Tom O’Leary, of Spokane, sent $125.
Pat Cwik, of Spokane, sent $120.
A second story thanking more donors from Wednesday’s tally can be found on Page B2.