The Christmas Bureau organizers decided to open early Wednesday morning so the needy families that lined up about dawn at the Spokane Fair & Expo Center could get in out of the cold. Everything went smoothly, according to bureau co-chairman Mike Reilly, and the good news is that the last truckload of toys will arrive and be unloaded late this afternoon. A student choir from Gonzaga Prep regaled the bureau with Christmas carols midday, one of three days that area high school choirs will entertain at the bureau.
The bureau distributed food vouchers to 1,572 needy families, worth $49,340, and gave out toys for 3,245 children. In addition, the bureau distributed 372 vouchers worth $5,880 to poor shut-ins last week.
The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund pays for this charity. Donations of $18,193 brought the fund to $94,254.10. The fund goal is $485,000, the amount organizers estimate will be needed to pay for the toys and vouchers. Donations of all amounts are welcome.
The bureau opens at 10 a.m. weekdays through Dec. 21. However, several hundred families were processed early on opening day because of the sub-freezing temperatures.
A steady stream of poor families kept the volunteers busy all day. A few of the volunteers have been on both sides of the table at the bureau, among them Vicki Savage. Eleven years ago she had just left her husband and was a single mom with three children trying to figure out what she was going to do for Christmas cheer.
“I had moved into a two-bedroom apartment with another single mom. Between us we had five children,” Savage said. “I saw in the newspaper that the Christmas Bureau was offering toys and food vouchers.”
“We were so intimidated when we got here. There were so many people,” she said.
She said she doesn’t remember which toys she picked out for her children, but she does remember how friendly the volunteers were.
“Now as a volunteer, I know what it is like to be scared so I try to be as helpful and friendly as possible,” she said.
Savage came just one year as a recipient. “I did come another year with a friend, because she needed help, and she was intimidated about coming here.”
Three years ago, Savage decided it was time to give back. “I saw a notice in the paper that the bureau needed volunteers. I thought, ‘I’ve been there and now I can give back.’ I don’t have money to give but I can donate my time,” she said.
She’s working three days at the bureau and her children, now 15, 13 and 11, are planning to help on the day the bureau is dismantled.
“You never know who will come for help,” she said. “The people who are most grateful are the older, single immigrants. They tear up over a $15 voucher. I don’t think there is a greater joy than working here.”
Following are the donors and their donations:
Testcomm LLC, of Spokane, donated $2,000.
Mark, Marcy, A.J. and Joey Few, of Spokane, donated $1,000. Chuck and Trish Haywood, of Spokane, sent $1,000 in memory of Alide Haywood. An anonymous donor, of Spokane, gave $1,000 in memory of Mary Petek.
Vincent and Marian Rogers, of Spokane, sent $500, as did Geraldine Roe, of Spokane; Jon and Valerie Eliassen, of Otis Orchards; Ken and Sharon Catheart, of Colbert; and two anonymous donors, both of Spokane.
Paul and Jeanie May, of Greenacres, donated $400, as did Tim Quirk and Sally Bulger Quirk, of Spokane.
John Baumhofer, of Spokane, donated $350 in memory of his mother.
Jim and Jeanette Koppa, of Spokane, sent $250, as did Gilbert and Rita Doran, Robert and Diane Notske, Gerard and Marianne Fischer, Sandra Willcocks, and an anonymous donor, all of Spokane; and an anonymous donor, of Cheney.
Donna Hares, of Spokane, gave $250, in memory of her husband, Donald W. Hares.
Joan and Joseph Gagliardi, of Spokane, gave $200, as did Gust Abariotes, of Spokane Valley; Lowell and Marion Severud, Ronald and Diane Kaufman, and an anonymous donor, all of Spokane; and an anonymous donor, of Spokane Valley.
Wallace Rhett, of Greenacres, donated $200 in memory of his wife, Louise, who was a longtime member of the Spokane Valley Eagles No. 3433.
Kathryn and Wayne Sharp, of Liberty Lake, donated $150, as did two anonymous donors, both of Spokane.
Annette La Combe, of Spokane, sent $100, as did John and Nancy Davis, Jim Bingham, Dick and Mary Schroeder, Steven and Bev Booras, Bill and Helen Yokum, and Walter and Marian Nelson, all of Spokane.
Verna Winton, of Spokane, donated $125 in memory of her husband, Marvin Winton, “who was a longtime supporter and volunteer at the Christmas Bureau.”
Robert and Robin Simpson, of Spokane, donated $100, as did Kenneth and Helen Evans, of Mead; Roberta and Mick Jackson, of Veradale; Dale Willis, of Coeur d’Alene; and Burma and Richard Williams, of Pullman.
Virginia Besemer, of Spokane Valley, gave $100 in memory of Seward Besemer.
David and Evelyn DeFoe, of Spokane, sent $100, as did William and Donna Harsell, Steve and Judy Mongelluzzo, Brent Hoogner, John and Zoe Ann Foltz, Stephen Noland, Irma Moore, Gordon and Mara Cooper, Lorraine Riddle, Clayton Findlay, and Virginia and Bruce Whitehouse, all of Spokane.
Mark and Sandra Gardner, of Spokane, donated $100, as did Eileen and Calvin Riemcke, of Nine Mile Falls, Robin and Jerry Schrader, of Spokane, three anonymous donors, all of Spokane; an anonymous donor, of Post Falls; an anonymous donor, of Colbert; and an anonymous donor, of Veradale.
Mr. and Mrs. Tony Roche, of Liberty Lake, gave $75, as did Peggy and Charles Estey, of Spokane.
Leo Wood, of Mead, gave $65.
A donation of $60 came from Gil and Ginger Kleweno, Mel and Judy Kleweno, and Don and Donna Kleweno, of Endicott, Wash.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, gave $55 in honor of and thanks to Ken and Carol Moore, musicians at Grace Lutheran Church.
Franklin and Linda Browne, of Spokane, sent $50, as did Elizabeth Felgenhauer, of Fairfield, Wash.; John and Beverly Johnson, of Spokane Valley; Gene and Jackie La Liberte, of Liberty Lake; Greg and Monica Dunn, of Spokane; Robert and Patricia Edelblute, of Spokane Valley; and David and Katherine Halpins, of Hayden, Idaho.
Janet Biggs, of Spokane Valley, donated $50, as did Lloyd and Winnie May Andrews, of Rathdrum, Idaho; Ruby Niemeyer, William and Fongkaew Loskot, Hans and Janet Bynagle, and four anonymous donors, all of Spokane.
Robert and Susan Anselmo, of Spokane, gave $50 in memory of Joseph and Elizabeth Anselmo.
Ray, Liz, Lauren and Kiley Schatz, donated $42 in memory of Karen Schatz Dunning.
Shirley Schoenleber, of Spokane, gave $35.
Dalton and Karen Jassman, of Spokane, sent $30.
William Martin, of Spokane, sent $25 and a note: “I hope this small amount will brighten some child’s Christmas. I truly wish it were more.”
Kelly Ryan, of Spokane, gave $25 in memory of his dad, Pat. Willis and Eileen Cox, of Spokane, donated $25, as did Margaret and Chris Tollackson, Lucille Gallion, Don and Joy Pentas, Donald Fairburn, and Clifford Lewis, all of Spokane.
Meryl and Marylin Bauer, of Spokane, sent $25, as did Richard and Judith Gammon, Jeannette Selbo, and two anonymous donors, all of Spokane, an anonymous donor, of Liberty Lake, and an anonymous donor, of Cheney.
The Oszurko family, of Nine Mile Falls, donated $20, as did Melvin Pryor, of Spokane; Shirley Smith, of Veradale; and an anonymous donor, of Spokane.
Rolf and Vivienne Walling, of Spokane, sent $15.
Audrey Huebschman, of Greenacres, donated $10.
An anonymous donor gave $1.