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Snow toys to abound at bureau

Tuesday’s snowfall ramped up the excitement level of the two women who buy toys for the Christmas Bureau. They have ordered more than 400 Spider-Man snowboards and Snow Raider sleds to be given to poor children when the bureau opens next week.

The bad news is that the snow toys haven’t arrived at the warehouse yet. But Judy Thies and Janelle Kortlever, the volunteers in charge of buying the toys, are confident they’ll be here in time.

Last year, there was not much enthusiasm for snow toys because there was no snow. Eventually some parents did select a sled or snowboard as the toy for their child. This year, with more snow expected this week, the snow toys should fly out the door, Thies says.

Thies and Kortlever spent hours in July ordering toys for 15,000 children. The toys and vouchers for holiday dinners will be distributed to needy area families beginning Dec. 7.

The annual charity is funded by generous donations to The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund. Donations of $7,300 included a $4,000 gift from the employees and management of Gold Seal Mechanical Inc. and Gold Seal Service. The daily tally brought the fund total to $22,161.05.

Much more is needed. The fund goal this year is $485,000. Donations of all amounts are welcome.

The longtime toy buyer for the Christmas Bureau, Sally Quirk, turned the job over to Thies and Kortlever this year.

“I worked the last four years at the bureau and each year I worked with the toys,” said Thies. “I liked it so.” Kortlever is also a veteran volunteer at the bureau with experience in the toy rooms.

With a committee, they pored over toy catalogs for hours in July, compiling a selection of toys for five age groups. The parents of grade-school-age boys, for example, will have 24 different toys from which to choose, ranging from model radio cars to soccer balls. For middle-school girls, the toy committee chose metallic bead kits and glitter lamps, pre-teen cosmetics kits and scrapbooking supplies.

Teenage girls may get clock radios or paint-by-number kits while teen boys may find board games or clock radios on Christmas morning.

“My favorite toy was the makeup for teen girls,” said Thies. “I also love the Hummer models for the boys. They make noises when you move them.”

The bureau gets the toys for wholesale prices, averaging $12 per toy; most would retail for about $20.

Volunteers will unload the toys at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center on Monday. They will be inventoried and sorted by age group, set up in makeshift toy rooms.

“I moved to Spokane three years ago and started volunteering at the bureau,” said Kortlever. “This is the true meaning of Christmas and it’s where I should be spending my time.”

Here are the donors and their donations from the daily tally:

The $4,000 donation from the employees and management of Gold Seal Mechanical Inc. and Gold Seal Service included a note. “We are pleased to be able to return something to this wonderful community,” wrote Gold Seal president Richard Dixon. “We hope that this can help to make a better holiday for our neighbors who are less fortunate.”

Nathan and Bonnie Narrance, of Colbert, sent $1,000 and a note: “Nature has wreaked havoc on many people across the world. My son Ken, whose memory I will hold forever, had taught me that many families need a little assistance from time to time. We hope this helps some local folks in this holiday season.”

Richard Dixon, of Spokane, sent $800.

William Roberts, of Spokane, gave $500 in memory of his wife, Virginia.

The donor-advisers to the Richard and Connie Stacey Donor-Advised Fund recommended a $400 grant to the Board of Directors of Foundation Northwest, of Spokane.

Dee and Rhon Holm, of Colbert, gave $200, as did William and Deborah Pierce, of Spokane.

Charles Lobdell, of Spokane, sent $200 in memory of his mother. He wrote: “As a child raised during the Great Depression of the 1930s, I know first-hand what it is like to go without. My mother felt, as I do, that no child should experience Christmas without a present. My mother would scrape and save all year so my brothers and sisters would have a Christmas present.”


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