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Restaurant owner an unsung Christmas Bureau hero

About 30,000 needy people get the fixings of Christmas from the Christmas Bureau each year. It’s a big undertaking to serve these area families, requiring hundreds of volunteers. But there are also unsung heroes who work behind the scenes at the charity at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center.

One of them is Dave McGann. He’s co-owner of the five Arby’s restaurants in Spokane and donates enough soup, salad and sandwiches to feed all of the volunteers working at the Christmas Bureau – about 80 a day, except Wednesdays, when there are two shifts of workers and he has Arby’s deliver enough food for lunch and dinner.

McGann says he doesn’t remember exactly when he started supporting the Christmas Bureau, but thinks it was about 15 years ago.

He started volunteering at the bureau about six years ago. “It probably was Donna Hanson who asked me to volunteer. Anything she asked for, she really needed,” McGann said.

Hanson, who died this fall, was director of Catholic Charities.

McGann worked at the identification table on Wednesday, a busy day at the bureau. Volunteers distributed 1,567 food vouchers worth $45,425 and gave out 2,556 toys.

The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund, which raises money to pay for the vouchers and toys, also had a big day on Wednesday. The daily tally reached $21,652.76, boosting the fund total to $188,638.03.

The fund goal is $485,000, the amount organizers estimate will be needed to pay the bills after the bureau closes on Dec. 21. Donations of all amounts are welcome.

“Before I volunteered, I never knew what was going on inside the bureau,” McGann said. “I love working the ID table. I can see firsthand that these people need help. I am impressed with the volunteers and with the people who come. Most are so grateful.”

This year, McGann invited the director of operations at Arby’s, Jerry Pederson, to volunteer at the bureau. “Dave has been a tremendous role model in my life,” said Pederson. “He has such a generous spirit.”

Pederson said volunteering at the bureau has touched his heart. “My mom was a single mom with six boys. I remember boxes of presents being delivered at Christmas from her church. I still remember the toys, a teddy bear and a truck.”

On Wednesday, Pederson worked in the toy room at the bureau. “It is humbling to be part of this – it’s a great blessing. I will go home remembering the kids’ faces, their bright eyes,” he says.

The bureau was open until 6:30 p.m. Wednesday to serve the working poor. “I just look at all these people and think, by the grace of God I am fortunate to be where I am today,” Pederson says.

Following are the donors to the daily tally and their donations:

Wilbert Precast, Inc., of Spokane, sent a $2,000 donation.

Pine Lodge Pre-Release, of Medical Lake, donated $1,000, as did the trustees of the Ludlow Foundation, of Liberty Lake; Commercial Grading, of Otis Orchards; Ron and Carol Gifford, of Spokane; an anonymous donor, of Mead; and another anonymous donor, of Creston, Wash.

Bill and Janice Houk, of Spokane, donated $1,000 in memory of their granddaughter, Renae Bohman.

Randal DeFelice gave $970.70 through PayPal.

Kevin West, of Citigroup Global Markets, Inc., of Spokane, sent $750 and a note: “Please accept this contribution on behalf of my new clients this year as well as those that I’ve worked with over the years. This is one small way for me to help out those that are less fortunate than I. Thank you to those volunteers who give so much of themselves to benefit others within our community.”

Dr. William and Mary Murphy, of Spokane, donated $500, as did Terry and Kathryn Deno, of Spokane; Esther Nelson, of Spokane Valley; Roger and Kathleen Chase, of Spokane; and an anonymous donor, of Cheney.

An anonymous donor, of Spokane, gave $500 in memory of deceased loved ones. An anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $500 in memory of J.W.P. An anonymous donor, of Colbert, sent $500 in honor of Iva and Skip Louderback.

James and Barbara Snider, of Spokane Valley, donated $400.

An anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $300.

Mark and Pip Witner, of Mead, donated $250, as did an anonymous donor, of Almira, Wash.

Betty Littell, of Spokane Valley, sent $200 in memory of her husband, Marv Littell, and Sally Littell, “who believed in the Christmas Fund and the love and joy of giving.”

Gary and Linda Hargrave, of Spokane, donated $200, as did Allene Womble, Bill and Patty Houff, Donald Moore, and an anonymous donor, all of Spokane.

Vivian and Neil Owens, of Spokane Valley, donated $150, as did an anonymous donor, of Liberty Lake, in memory of Clem.

Cathi Lundberg, of Spokane, donated $125, as did Nancy and T.R. Nelson, of Colbert.

Tom and Debbie Daniel, of Spokane, donated $100, as did Mary and Roger Gordon, John and Jacquelin Richardson, Kenneth Raymond, Tom and Mary Anna Bryan, Dick and Donita Day, and Richard and Clarice Hubbard, all of Spokane.

Ed and Marlene Anderson, of Newman Lake, gave $100, as did Lorraine and Daniel Klobucher, of Chattaroy; Barbara Monroe, of Pullman, Wash.; Mary Topp, of Spokane Valley; Charlotte and Paul Hudon, of Clayton, Wash.; and an anonymous donor, of Newhall, Calif.

Del and Donna Topoll, of Spokane, sent $100, as did Vicki Hayes, of Spokane Valley; Theodore and Diane Ketcham, of Spokane; two anonymous donors, both of Spokane; and an anonymous donor, of Mead. Duane and Nola Steinke, of Mead, sent $100 and a note: “It is too bad that something like the Christmas Fund cannot somehow be operated on a 365-day basis. It sure would be a happy event.”

Jerry and Mary Littlemore, of Spokane, donated $100 in memory of their fathers.

The Goertz family, of Medical Lake, donated $100 in memory of Herb and Florence Goertz.

The Empire Lumber corporate office, of Spokane, and its employees, gave $100. “As the holidays close in on us, it is time to think of those less fortunate and to reach out to help them. Those of us in the forest products industry understand the difficult times. Empire Lumber would like to continue its tradition of forgoing its Christmas lunch for the 12th year, in order to help our neighbors, and add this donation to the wonderful spirit of sharing our community exhibits,” wrote company representatives.

An anonymous donor, of Spokane, gave $85.

Rona and Ron Kreulen, of Spokane, gave $75 in memory of their friend, Joan, who passed away this fall. Shirley Dicus, of Spokane, also donated $75.

Grace and Wallace Libby, of Spokane Valley, sent $70 – “a dollar for each year we have been married.”

Dale and Gaye Dionne, of Spokane, sent $50 in memory of her sister, Sharon. Mike and Nicole Edmunds, of Spokane, donated $50 in memory of Francis Edmunds and Jack and Jessie Weller. Jean Fletchel, of Spokane, donated $50, as did Paula and Richard Jannsen, of Spokane Valley; Robert and Gloria Sawyer, of Liberty Lake; Kenneth and Linda Leyde, of Spokane; two anonymous donors, both of Spokane; and an anonymous donor, of Mead.

Kay Manum, of Valleyford, Wash., donated $50 in celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, and as a gift of love in honor of Barb and Shelby.

Jack and Doris Primmer, of Spokane, donated $50, as did Ron Doyen, William and Virginia Selzer, Edwin and Jean Myers, Jim and Jackie Vroman, and Phyllis Robison, all of Spokane. Shirley Miller and Dan Felgar, of Spokane, gave $50 in memory of their mother, Audrey Dunton.

The Spokane Sorosis Organization donated $38.

Curt and Mary Jo Lorenz, of Chattaroy, donated $35, as did Claudia and Richard Kroll, of Nine Mile Falls.

Rita Giebel, of Spokane, sent $25, as did the Canniwai Grange No. 837, of Odessa, Wash.; Judy and Gordon Landbert, of Spokane Valley; Sandra Quinn, of Liberty Lake; Suzette and Neil Miller, of Spokane; and two anonymous donors, both of Spokane.

AIS, Inc., Express Personnel Services, of Spokane, donated $20.06.

Bonnie Myers, of Spokane, gave $20, as did an anonymous donor, of Spokane; an anonymous donor, in memory of Karl Danner; and another anonymous donor, in memory of Elizabeth.

Christine Hobbs, of Spokane, gave $14.

R.W. Townsend, Jr., of Spokane, donated $10, as did an anonymous donor.. Another anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $10 and a note: “I live on Social Security. This donation is all I can spare. I wish I could send more. God bless you all for the work you are doing for our community.”

Susan English can be contacted at