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Bureau gears up for giving

Judy Thies checks inventory lists as Christmas Bureau volunteers unload a semitrailer load of toys at the Spokane County fairgrounds on Monday. 
 (Christopher Anderson/ / The Spokesman-Review)
Judy Thies checks inventory lists as Christmas Bureau volunteers unload a semitrailer load of toys at the Spokane County fairgrounds on Monday. (Christopher Anderson/ / The Spokesman-Review)

The Christmas Bureau is poised to open Wednesday morning and if they follow tradition, some recipients will be lined up outside the fairgrounds gates before daylight.

There is really no need for the people who come to the bureau for the fixings of Christmas to arrive early. The charity will have toys for all of the thousands of children and food vouchers for every family. When the bureau did run short of toys in past years, generous donations to the Christmas Fund allowed volunteers to buy more.

Donations to the Christmas Fund keep this annual effort operating. Donations of $5,601.35 brought the fund to $63,302.85. Much more is needed to reach the goal of $485,000, which will also boost the total the fund has raised over the years past the $10 million mark. Donations of all amounts are welcome.

The bureau opens its doors at 10 a.m. Wednesday and will be open until 6:30 p.m. so the working poor can be served. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. except Wednesdays, when it is open longer.

Fourteen volunteers arrived at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center at 7:30 a.m. Monday. They unloaded hand trucks and posted signs on the warehouse walls indicating where the toddler toys, the teen toys and the boxes of board games should be stacked.

By 9:15 a.m., the first truck full of toys backed into the building and the forklift driver lifted a volunteer high enough to begin unloading the boxes.

By noon, one truckload of toys remained to be unloaded and sorted and the computers, tables and chairs were arriving.

“We are actually ahead of where we were last year on set-up day,” said Mike Reilly, co-chairman of the bureau.

The fairgrounds crew was outside melting the ice with a propane torch so they could repair a cable to the building.

“The heat is on but it’s still chilly,” Reilly said. “But everyone’s working hard so it’s OK.”

Volunteers dined on lunch from Arby’s, as they will every day of the Christmas Bureau operation. Arby’s owner Dave McGann is donating dozens of lunches a day to the bureau for each day’s crew of volunteers.

By this morning, the computers should be ready for testing and all 250 volunteers will gather this morning for orientation, training and lunch. On Wednesday they begin giving away the community’s Christmas gifts to the needy.

Here are the latest donors and their donations:

Vandervert Construction, of Spokane, donated $2,500.

Kilgore Tec Products, of Spokane, and its staff donated $500. “Thank you for making this possible in our community and giving the opportunity to give back,” wrote company president Mike Kilgore.

Doctors Kennar Kapstafer and Robert Maixner, of Pediatric Associates of Spokane, donated $300.

Marshall Shore, of Spokane, sent $300.

An anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $250.

Stanley Sargent, of Spokane, included a note with a $200 donation: “Have we had any destructive hurricanes? No. Have we had any killer tornadoes? No. Have we had any tsunamis wipe us out? No. Have we had any terrorists kill any of us while here? No. Have we had any earthquakes demolish our homes and lives? No. Have we had any monsoons drown us? No. We are blessed. Keep giving.”

Mark Chapman and Cire Gray, of Deer Park, donated $175.

Gary Kelly donated $145.35 through PayPal.

Geoff and Bridget Webster, of Spokane, donated $101 in memory of Grandma Nellie. “She passed away in England two weeks ago at the age of 101. Although she experienced hardships during her life, her laughter and carefree spirit inspired all who knew her,” they wrote.

Edna Gump, of Spokane, sent $100 in memory of her husband, Robert Gump.

Margot Fitzgerald, of Spokane, donated $100, as did Gary and Susan Bloom, Bruce and Joanne Bouma, and an anonymous donor, all of Spokane.

Donald Head, of Spokane, donated $100 in celebration of another year of freedom. “Sixty-one years ago this month I was captured in the Battle of the Bulge,” he wrote.

Jackie Whipps, of Spokane, donated $75 in memory of her parents, Virgil and Edna Whipps. Jeff and Brenda Danner, of Spokane Valley, also sent $75.

Tom and Joe Domini and Domini’s Sandwiches, of Spokane, donated $50, as did Ken and Chris Brown, of Spokane; The Spokesman-Review Features Department, which donated proceeds of its annual freebie sale; and an anonymous donor, of Spokane.

Kris Spelman, of Spokane, sent $50 in memory of her grandmother, Violet Burgunder, and great-aunt, Elsie Altin.

Stacie and Randy Probst, of Spokane, donated $20.

An anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $10 and a note: “There is no better charity than the Christmas Fund. My little amount, multiplied by the thousands who also contribute their little bit, add up to big giving. Best of all, 100 percent of the money raised goes to the intended recipients and not to the expenses of fund-raising.”