Two days and counting: The Christmas Bureau will open at 10 a.m. Wednesday, and between now and then, volunteers will be engaged in a flurry of activity at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center.
This annual charity, which distributes the fixings of Christmas to the area’s needy families, is funded by generous donations to The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund.
Donations of $5,485 brought the fund to $57,701.50 Sunday. Much more is needed if the fund is to reach its goal of $485,000, the amount needed to pay for the toys, food vouchers and candy given out to make Christmas brighter for poor families. Donations of any amount are welcome.
The bureau will be open weekdays from Wednesday through Dec. 21.
Bureau volunteers will arrive soon after dawn today to start setting up the warehouse portion of the bureau, where the 15,000 toys will be inventoried and stored. There also will be an area for volunteers to get coffee, a doughnut and lunch.
Two semitrucks will back into the fairgrounds building at 9 a.m., and the volunteers will spend the rest of the morning unloading the boxes of toys, sorting them by the age group for which they are intended and marking inventory lists to make sure everything that was ordered has arrived.
This afternoon, trucks will deliver computers and a couple of dozen folding tables for the computers, toy rooms, children’s books and the volunteers’ break area.
Thousands of books also will arrive by truck, and they, too, must be unpacked and sorted by age group.
Hundreds of folding chairs will be set up in snaking lines so as many recipients as possible can get into the building, where it is warm, and sit down while they wait.
The Christmas Bureau itself can’t be set up until all the deliveries have been made and the trucks have been driven out of the building so the big doors can be closed and the heat turned on.
ABC Mini-Storage donated warehouse space last December for all the equipment, tables, computers, folding chairs, carpeting for the child-care area and any toys left over from last year.
Custer Enterprises and Lilac City Decorators will build the toy and child-care rooms from portable partitions and wrap the identification and computer tables with skirts to make the bureau seem more festive.
It’s the real crunch day at the bureau, but co-chairmen Bruce Butler and Mike Reilly say they’ll be ready for Tuesday’s trial run of the operation. The computers will be networked and tested. Those are used to assemble a database of recipients’ addresses and to print the food vouchers.
Volunteer orientation will begin at midday Tuesday. After lunch, the volunteers will disperse to their areas, whether it’s the toy rooms, the identification tables or the child-care areas, for training.
And someone needs to start blowing up the hundreds of soccer balls that will be available in the toy rooms.
That’s just one of the dozens of details in making sure this huge operation runs smoothly.
These are the new donors and their donations:
An anonymous donor from Spokane gave $1,500.
The Brajcich family – Doug, DJ and Roo – sent $500 and a note: “In loving memory of my son and our brother, Scott, who we miss dearly.”
Eric and Judy Spangenberg, of Pullman, also donated $500.
Peter and Gay Witherspoon, of Spokane, donated $375.
Mike McKinnon, of Spokane, sent $300 in memory of his parents, Marge and Joe McKinnon.
Richard Morris, of Veradale, gave $200, as did an anonymous donor from Spokane.
William Fisher, of Mead, donated $180.
Betty Johnston, of Spokane Valley, sent $150 in memory of her husband, David Johnston, who died in January. “He always enjoyed giving to the Christmas Fund to help those in need,” she wrote.
Morris and Lucille Slavens, of Spokane, also donated $150.
Lois Richards, of Spokane, sent $125.
Joan Casey, of Priest River, Idaho, sent $100, as did Jaynie Hansen, of Spokane Valley, and Kathy and Pat Harper, Kenneth Rydbom, and Lloyd and Harriet Jacobson, all of Spokane.
Rebecca and Thomas Hochwalt, of Chewelah, Wash., also donated $100, as did Delmer and Shirley Nokes, of Colbert; David and Rossane Whitney, of Otis Orchards; and two anonymous donors, both of Spokane.
Gene Hubbell, of Spokane, gave $50, as did Timothy and Marcia Dorwin, Ewing and Olevia Page, and Jacquelyn Daniell, all of Spokane. Werner and Marlene Westhoff, of Spokane, sent $50 and a note: “Thank you for your great service to the less fortunate.”
Allen and Lola Thompson, of Spokane, donated $35.
Agnes Rablin, of Cheney, sent $30.
Dorothy and Don Goettel, of Spokane, sent $25, as did Cheryl Scheideman, also of Spokane.
An anonymous donor from Spokane gave $20.