More than 6,500 families have been given holiday gifts of food vouchers, toys, books and candy at the Christmas Bureau at the fairgrounds. The charity will be open five more days, and if the trends continue, more than 10,000 families will get the fixings of Christmas before the bureau closes Dec. 20.
Thursday, volunteers gave vouchers totaling $20,694 to 734 families and toys to 1,080 children. Through the first seven days of operation, the bureau has distributed 6,503 vouchers worth $190,890, serving 10,111 adults and 11,002 children. Every child also received a toy and a book.
Toy buyers Judy Theis and Janelle Kortlever ordered 17,000 toys this year, a thousand more than they ordered last year. The bureau ran out of toys last year, forcing Theis and Kortlever to make several last-minute toy runs.
Theis said that there are still plenty of toys left that are appropriate for the various age groups, but the toy selection has dwindled. All of the remote-control cars were gone after the first day, for example, as were Noah’s arks, the Clifford table-and-chairs sets and the Captain BB’s pirate ships.
Also gone are the Deal Or No Deal games, skateboards, dinosaurs, pottery wheels, microscopes, snow sleds, Star Wars games, scooters, Candyland games, telescopes, Junior Monopoly games and sleeping bags.
What’s left? Plenty of infant toys, said Theis. “We have a lot of infant dump trucks and rocking balls. We also have plenty of Barbies with cars, turbo tricycles, T-ball sets, Road Ripper cars with sounds and moving wheels, Pony Ride-Ons, children’s shopping carts with play food, basketballs, footballs, toboggans and On-the-Go Strollers.”
The buyers use last year’s bureau numbers to predict the number of toys to order for each age group. That was done last summer. If necessary, they will replenish the supply with toys purchased locally.
The toys and vouchers distributed at the bureau are paid for with generous donations to the Christmas Fund. Donations of $15,860.28, led by a contribution from Wilbert Precast Inc., bumped the Christmas Fund to $175,281.25.
Wilbert Precast Inc., of Spokane, and its employees donated $3,140.28. “We at Wilbert Precast understand that the money raised through your fund goes directly to the needs of the people in this community without a lot of overhead to support the cause. The employees and the company applaud The Spokesman-Review for taking on the cause and giving us an outlet to support with our many blessings,” wrote Wilbert Precast Inc. president Dan Houk.
Donations of all amounts are welcome. Donors who wish to remain anonymous should indicate their wishes in a note accompanying their check. Following are other donors and their donations:
Dr. and Mrs. Bill Bronson, of Spokane Valley, donated $1,000, as did two anonymous donors, of Spokane. An anonymous donor, of Spokane, gave $1,000 in memory of Ernie and Bonnie Boyd.
Mia and D.C. Davidson, of Spokane, donated $500, as did Wafford Conrad, and Mark and Valerie Sonderen, all of Spokane. An anonymous donation was made for Clara.
Drs. Andrew and Molly Howelett, of Spokane, sent $500 and a note: “My wife and I are happy to give to this fund for the first time. I grew up here and was always amazed at how generous Spokane always was. Now that we have moved back and actually have a job, we would like to give you this small gift, in honor of my cancer patients I treat here in Spokane. Their courage inspires me.”
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, gave $400 in memory of Judy Grovdahl, Ruth Whitinger and Toots Klosken. An anonymous donor, of Greenacres, sent $400 and his thanks to all the volunteers helping with the Christmas Bureau.
Eric and Judy Spangenberg, of Pullman, donated $300, as did Karen Nichols, Norman and Rowera Fredekind, and two anonymous donors, all of Spokane.
The Hill family, of Spokane, sent $230.
Steven and Barbara Stoyanac, of Mead, gave $200, as did an anonymous donor, of Spokane. Another anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $200 in memory of Mom, Dad and Judy.
Lloyd and Harriett Jacobson, of Spokane, sent $150.
Bernard Habbestad, of Spokane, donated $125.
Elsie and Duane Brown, of Rathdrum, donated $100, as did Diane and Ty Wick, of Mead; Barbara and James Groves, Bob Frank Homes Inc., Wilbur Yates, Del and Donna Topoll, Skip and Darlene Waller, Mary and Dana Besecker, Rita Purkett, and the Bedfords, all of Spokane.
Jackie and Roy Howerton, of Spokane Valley, gave $100, as did Merle and Dolores Gilmore, also of Spokane Valley; and four anonymous donors, all of Spokane.
The Woman’s Club of Spokane sent $100 and a letter: “Every year at our December meeting, we take a silver offering from our membership for your Christmas Fund. The members and guests are always generous when it is for the Christmas Fund. Thank your organization for continuing to have this fund. It is wonderful to be able to give to something that helps the local residents,” they wrote.
Samuel and Frederika Wetterhus, of Colbert, sent $100 in memory of their son, Bob, “so that others may have a happier holiday.”
Charlotte Campbell, of Spokane, sent $100 in memory of Bruce and Janice.
Mr. and Mrs. R.D. Banta, of Mead, sent $75 in memory of Uncle Jim (Judge Banta), “who always tried to help others.” Mark Johnson, of Nine Mile Falls, gave $75, as did an anonymous donor, of Spokane.
Elizabeth and Steven Hitch, of Spokane, sent $50 and a note: “We are relatively new Spokane residents and are so proud of our community that cares with compassion to take care of its own.”
Ken and JoAnne Duncan, of Spokane, donated $50, as did Annette LaCombe, Otto and Doris Amen, and Debbie Benning, all of Spokane; Edith Rains, of Spokane Valley; and Gary Fiscus, of Liberty Lake.
Dave and Kathi Halpin, of Hayden, Idaho, sent $50 and a note: “My wife and I always, at this time of year, think about those families who have very little and without your program, would not have a nice Christmas otherwise. Thank you all for the help you do for those less fortunate.”
Pat Kingsbury and K.A. Price, of Spokane, donated $40.
Shirley Smith, of Spokane Valley, donated $30 in honor of the Bennett family. An anonymous donor, of Nine Mile Falls, gave $30, as did Lloyd and Dolores Nelson, of Spokane, in memory of Gordon Anderson.
Michael and Wendy Brady, of Spokane, donated $25, as did Mary Jane and Charles Booth, of Cheney; and Arthur and Esther Westlund, also of Spokane.
Elizabeth Lester, of Spokane Valley, donated $10.