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Christmas Fund drive beats goal

The Christmas Fund effort ended this week in the best way possible: a post-Christmas donation of $10,000 from Sacred Heart Medical Center and Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital helped boost the fund to $499,158.21, which is well past the goal of $485,000.

“We are pleased to present you with $10,000 toward helping those in need in our community,” wrote Skip Davis, CEO of Sacred Heart Medical Center. “Thank you for your ongoing commitment to the Christmas Fund. It is through efforts such as yours that make a difference for many.”

By all accounts the Christmas Fund, which pays for the toys and food vouchers distributed at the Christmas Bureau, was a success. The bureau saw an increase in the number of families served, which means more toys were given out and there was a significant bump in the food vouchers. By passing the $485,000 goal, the Christmas Fund will be able to pay for these additional bills.

“The Christmas Bureau could not have gone any smoother,” said Rob McCann, director of Catholic Charities. The Spokesman-Review partners with Catholic Charities, Salvation Army and Volunteers of America in this holiday charity.

This was McCann’s first year as director. He took the reins of Catholic Charities in the fall when longtime director Donna Hanson died.

“This was a learning experience for me at the bureau,” he said. “The first few days I spent about five hours a day, working at every job except toy assembly.The experience is an eye-opener, just seeing the volume of people served. The volunteers are also amazing. It is a big commitment for them, working day after day right before Christmas.”

McCann also noted Hanson’s legacy at the Christmas Bureau: “She always said that people won’t remember the gift they got, but they will remember how they were treated with dignity and respect. When I worked at the identification table, I noticed a lot of people were embarrassed to be there asking for help. They spoke softly. By the time they left, they were laughing and saying ‘merry Christmas.’ That is a reflection of how they were treated.”

“I am grateful for the longtime volunteers,” said Marilee Roloff, director of Volunteers of America. VOA distributes 16,000 children’s books at the bureau. The books are among the thousands of books donated to VOA by Scholastic Books. “It’s a big gift from them, when you figure 16,000 books at about $5 apiece,” Roloff said.

Indeed, the Christmas Fund and Christmas Bureau depend on a communitywide effort. In addition to the monetary donations to the Christmas Fund, the bureau depends on the community for donations of equipment and expertise.

Avista Corp. provides the memory for the computer system and the expertise of its computer expert, Scott Phipps, for example. Yoke’s Fresh Market donated 5,000 plastic bags for the toys, as well as doughnuts and bagels daily for the volunteers. Justus Bags Co., Inc., Food Services of America and Service Paper Co., also donated bags.

Forty containers of hand sanitizer for the volunteers were donated by Owens & Minor. Inland Medical & Rehabilitation loaned two wheelchairs to the bureau. Assumption Parish stores the computer network in a heated and secure place. GI Trucking, Gold Seal Mechanical, and Zeulschel Landscaping & Sprinkler Services provided trucks for moving toys and equipment to and from storage.

The Spokesman-Review pays the rental fees at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center and provides administrative services for the Christmas Fund.

Many local businesses provide the toys at greatly reduced prices, among them Huppins Photo Hi-Fi & Video, and Spalding Sports Worldwide.

Jensen Distributing Services donated items for the gift bags for single adults, which were assembled by the service group, Assistants.

URM Stores, Inc. provided the bags of Christmas candy and Verizon Wireless loaned cell phones and provided phone service to the bureau organizers.

Hundreds of volunteers donated their time for a few weeks, but for bureau co-chairs, Bruce Butler and Mike Reilly, the commitment is full-time for the month. After three years as chair, Butler has stepped down.

“Over 300 volunteers respectfully showed the Christmas spirit to all: the low-income elderly, the disabled, the couples, singles and grandparents raising children. For many recipients, what they received from the Christmas Bureau was their only Christmas gift. To me, this is a very moving experience. I want to thank you, Spokane,” Butler said.

Of course, the effort would not be possible without the generous donors from the community. The Christmas Fund closed for the year on Thursday. Any donations received after that will go to next year’s effort and will be reported after Thanksgiving.

Since Christmas, donations of $19,203 brought the Christmas Fund to $499,158.21. Following are the additional donors and their donations from last week:

An anonymous donor, of Newman Lake, Wash., gave $2,000.

An anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $500.

The Spokane Symphony Chorale donated $420.

The H. Earl Davis family, of Spokane, donated $300 in his memory.

Betsy Jewett, of Spokane, donated $300.

Tana Carosella donated $291 through PayPal.

The Cossey Noyes Group of Smith Barney, sent $300 on behalf of their clients. “We feel very blessed to be able to work with such wonderful people throughout the year, and this year we wanted to extend the Christmas spirit to children who would not otherwise feel very blessed,” wrote Stacy Cossey and Ralph Noyes.

The Wagner family, of Spokane, donated $250, as did Jan-Pro Northwest, of Spokane.

Walt and Imelda Patterson, of Spokane, donated $200, as did Susan Tewel, of Liberty Lake; Garrison and Carolyn, of Spokane; Averyl Mahaffey, of Spokane Valley; and Christy and Tom Hamilton, of Colbert, Wash.

The employees of Boehm’s Chocolates and Flowers, of Spokane, gave $150, as did Mark Houston, of Spokane.

An anonymous donor, of Spokane Valley, sent $125.

Tim, Liz, Rebecca, Gil and Anna Lee, of Spokane Valley, sent $120 and a note: “Our 10-year-old son came home from school before Thanksgiving and wanted to have a ‘serious talk’ about children in Africa who don’t have enough to eat. Our discussion eventually led to concern for those in our area who may not have enough to eat, or have Christmas presents or a nice warm home. He told us pointedly that we needed to help. Since Thanksgiving, our family has had one dinner a week where we had rice, bread or mashed potatoes, with no dessert. We donated what we would have spent on dinner those nights to the Christmas Fund. We realize how blessed our family is and want to give thanks by helping our neighbors in Spokane have a merry Christmas,” they wrote.

Dick Jeltsch, of Spokane, donated $100, as did Marcia and Russell Burroughs, of Nine Mile Falls; David Byrnes, Dwight Aden, Mitchell O’Connor, and Pat Holland and Erwin Benke, all of Spokane.

Sondra and Kenneth Goodner and Goodner’s Body Shop, in Four Lakes, Wash., donated $100, as did Marilyn and Al Morgan, of Seven Bays, Wash.; George and Michelene Weisbarth, of Newport, Wash.; H.O. Wilson, of Greenacres, Wash.; six anonymous donors, all of Spokane; and an anonymous donor, of Creston, Wash.

Kirk Hirota and Irene Gonzales, of Spokane, donated $100 in honor of teachers, “for all they give to their students each and every day.”

An anonymous donor, of Spokane, gave $100 in memory of her father, mother and sister.

An anonymous family, of Spokane, donated $80.

The staff of Summit Rehab Associates, of Spokane, donated $75, “in honor of Joel Long, the nicest man we have ever met.”

Margaret Ward, of Ferndale, Wash., donated $50, as did Christopher and Karen Sherfey, Lester and Patricia Hibdon, Jim and Debbie Camden, and four anonymous donors, all of Spokane; and an anonymous donor, of Mead.

The Thomas family, of Spokane, donated $50 in memory of R.W. Thomas. Marsh, Inc., of Hoboken, N.J., sent $50 in a matching gift.

Mr. and Mrs. Orle Hannas, of St. John, Wash., sent $50, as did Wendy Lloyd-Davies, of Coeur d’Alene.

Doris, of Spokane Valley, sent $50 and a note: “This is in tribute to a man and his two young boys who found my purse. I left it inadvertently in my shopping cart in the parking lot of Fred Meyer on Dec. 24. They turned it in to Customer Service intact, and I am forever indebted to them. They left no names, so I am choosing this way to thank them.”

Matt Pfeifer and Nicole Duvernay, of Cheney, Wash., donated $35.

William and Ida Young, of Spokane, gave $30.

Margaret Phillips, of Spokane, sent $30, “in honor of a kind, young woman who paid for my parking at the Sacred Heart Medical Building this week. I forgot my purse at home. She insisted that I take her money.”

The McCoys, of Veradale, sent $25, as did Douglas and Carol Peter, of Spokane; and Gerry and Darlene Ruhling, of Spokane, in honor of their uncle Benny in Malibu, Calif.

Ann Scott, of Spokane, donated $20, as did Anne Schnabel.

Laurie and Patrick Thiel, of Spokane Valley, donated $17.

An anonymous donor, of Liberty Lake, gave $15.


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