The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund passed the $10 million mark Thursday, the amount raised by the annual charity over its 60-year history. Considering that the fund raising is done only between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve each year, the milestone is even more significant.
“What does $10 million over 60 years say about the Inland Northwest? It says people here simply won’t let the poorest among us go without during the holidays,” says Steven A. Smith, editor of The Spokesman-Review. “That’s $10 million in heart, $10 million in commitment, $10 million in generosity. What a wonderful community statement.
“And what a privilege for all of us at The Spokesman-Review who have been blessed by our association with this incredible annual effort.”
While the large donations are the backbone of the fund, the heart is the individual donors who so often send notes with their checks for $5 and $10 saying they wanted to send more but just couldn’t. So far this year, 225 donors have sent donations of $25 or less to the Christmas Fund.
Laura Slentz, of Spokane, is the symbolic donor who tipped the charity past the $10 million milestone.
The Christmas Fund is just one of the local charities that she supports. She’s lived in Spokane her entire life – 66 years – and supported the fund nearly every year.
There were a few years that she missed, although she doesn’t know why. They just passed by, she says.
She wrote a check for $25 this year, because it was a hard year for a lot of people. “I wish it was more but I was worried about my oil bill this month,” she says.
Her husband died more than a decade ago but she still plans to go to a Christmas Eve service at Fourth Memorial Church, just as her family has always done. Her Christmas plans are modest – dinner with the family of a friend.
“My grandsons and daughter are going to the Seahawks game Saturday night. They asked me to go but I’m not crazy about driving to Seattle this time of year,” she says.
Her Nativity scene is set up and she has a small Christmas tree decorated. Like the thousands of other gifts to the Christmas Fund, her donation bought a toy for a child, or the makings of dinner. It has made Christmas brighter for a poor family.
The Christmas Fund goal is $485,000 this year and donations of all amounts are needed.
A generous donation of $12,000 from Garco Construction of Spokane and its employees brought the daily tally to $39,959.53 and boosted the Christmas Fund to $428,284.97.
“Once again our employees at Garco Construction have recognized their blessings and would like to pass on their contributions, along with our contribution, to the less fortunate in our community,” wrote Garco President James T. Welsh. “Our employees also contributed an additional $1,200 to other charitable organizations around the area. We are grateful that we are in a position to help others that are not as fortunate at this time of year. We at Garco Construction would like to wish everyone a safe holiday season and happy New Year.”
Downtown Toyota, Downtown Honda and Lexus of Spokane and its employees donated $7,210. “We feel very lucky that there is a fund that helps so many different organizations and families right here in our city,” wrote David Coombs and Steve Coombs. “Each year all of our employees donate and the dealerships match the employees’ funds. We all feel that we have had a very good year and we are happy to pass some of it on. We hope everyone has a very, merry Christmas.”
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $5,000 in honor of Dustin, P.J., Stacey, Brandon, Michael, Broc, Hayley, Landon, Madison and Chase.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $2,000.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane Valley, gave $1,100.
Dave and Cheryl Wall, of Spokane, gave $1,000, as did U.S. Bank, of Spokane, T.W. Clark Construction, of Spokane, and an anonymous donor.
Matthew Phillipson, of Spokane, sent $600 in honor of the fine employees of Sweet Swiss: Karlea, Jackie, Malissa, Susie, Bridget and Lori.
Tom, Colleen, Bri, Jenny and Lindsey Tracy, of Nine Mile Falls, donated $500 to wish all the staff of Northwest Farm Credit Service’s Legal and Lending Support Division a Merry Christmas and to recognize their efforts throughout 2005.
Mark and Valerie Sonderen, of Spokane, donated $500, as did Paul and Kathy Lin, also of Spokane.
The Spokane Yacht Club donated $350.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $350.
Lillian Olsen, of Spokane Valley, donated $300 in memory of her husband Oscar, niece Pam Larsen, and brother Elmer Kist. An anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $300 in honor of Ruth Strupp and Mary Payne.
Bob and Donna Dyron, of Spokane, donated $300.
Kathleen, Keith, Kara, Megan and Ian MacKenzie, of Spokane, donated $250, as did Inland Empire Drywall, of Spokane; and Jeff and Kim Brown, of Mead.
An anonymous donor, of Liberty Lake, gave $240.
Vincent and Margaret Moore, of Spokane, donated $220.
Robert and Claire Murphy, of Spokane, gave $200, as did Jack and Kathleen Ossello, also of Spokane, and an anonymous donor, of Elk, Wash.
Dawes and Mary Kay Eddy, of Spokane, donated $175.
Two anonymous donors, of Spokane, each gave $150.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $120 “in honor of the wonderful Christian women in a Tuesday Bible study group. Their love, laughter, wisdom, insight and support has been a real gift to me this past year – one I wish to pass on to others through the Christmas Fund.”
Emmett and Eleen Jeffers, of Spokane, gave $120.
The kindergartners and kindergarten teacher in Room 105 at Whitman Elementary School donated $101. “The donation represents the $50.50 my kindergartners earned at home and brought to school for the Giving Jar. One girl even gave her money from the tooth fairy,” wrote Renee McCullough. “I matched that amount and we are proud to donate it to help children who may not get a gift otherwise.
Christine Moore Long, of Spokane, gave $100 as a Christmas gift to her parents, Al and Sue Moore of Bothell, Wash.
Robert Breidenbach, of Spokane, donated $100, as did Frank and Jean Armstrong, Arlen and Charleene Ristuben, Nancy Lindsay, Ewing and Phyllis Johnson, Luanne Petersen, Donald Petersen, and two anonymous donors, all of Spokane.
Eileen Peters, of Spokane Valley, donated $100, as did Jan Dare, of Coeur d’Alene. Marcia and John Magnuson, of Spokane, gave $100 in memory of their mother, Anna Bernice Kienholz, and father, Dr. Richard F. Miller.
Delene Christian, of Spokane, gave $100 in memory of her grandpa, Mark K. Hollenback. “He was such a caring, generous man, always willing to help anyone in need. He has been gone for less than a year, but he is dearly remembered and missed greatly. It is my hope that this will bring joy and good memories to a few people this Christmas.”
Helen Hargis, of Spokane, sent $100, “in memory of my son Scott, who loved Christmas so very much, and in honor of my sons D.J.’s and Roo’s graduation from dental and law school. I am blessed with many things, especially these wonderful children. I hope in some way to share Christmas blessings with others in need.”
Evelyn and Jeffrey Tichacek, of Medical Lake, sent $100 in memory of John and Ruth Schnuerle and Rudolf Tichacek.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, gave $50, “to give back to the community where we raise our three wonderful kids and have lived for 13 years.”
The Spawn family, of Spokane, donated $50 in honor of the first- and second-grade teachers at St. Thomas More School, Mrs. Holcomb, Mrs. Coulter and Mrs. Myers.
Betty Dylina, of Spokane, sent $50, as did Kenneth and Jo Anne Duncan, C.P. Smith, and Loyce Lewis, all of Spokane; and Carol Nilson, of Colton.
Karyl Christensen donated $48.25 through PayPal.
Cyndee Northrop, of Spokane, gave $35 in honor of her friends, Carol and Edward Goss. Nancy and James Morris, of Moscow, Idaho, donated $35.
The Wild Women Investment Club, of Spokane, donated $33.
Grandma Jean and Papa Pete, of Spokane, donated $30 and challenged all day-care providers to beat or match the donation.
Jan Hunt, of Oldtown, Idaho, donated $29 in memory of her daughter, Dawn Marie Hunt, who would have been 29 last May.
Brynn Richey, of Spokane, donated $28.28.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, donated $25.
Erik and Denny Patterson, of Spokane, gave $20, as did Steve Duvall, also of Spokane.
Kelsey Nameck and DeVonte Mackin, both 5 years old, each donated $5, “for a boy and girl to get a present who can’t afford one.”