The number of needy families going to the Christmas Bureau for help with their holiday celebrations continues to run well above last year. Volunteers gave food vouchers to 960 families Tuesday, a 20 percent increase over the number served on the third day of operation last year, and 1,729 children were given toys, a 16 percent increase.
Tall stacks of 16,000 toys filled the north end of the Ag Building at the fairgrounds on Saturday, the opening day of the bureau. By the time the bureau closed Tuesday, nearly 6,480 toys had been given to poor children, a 12 percent increase over last year.
Janelle Kortlever, one of the two volunteer toy buyers for the bureau, spent a few minutes Tuesday afternoon taking stock of the toy inventory. The 300 skateboards she had ordered in May were gone early on Saturday, as were the 75 tents, 100 monster trucks, the air hockey games, boys’ and girls’ watches, and the Clifford The Big Red Dog tables and chairs.
“Anything princess or pirates continues to be big with the kids,” Kortlever said. Only a few of the 300 Disney Doll Princesses are left; the pirate ships are gone, as are the Dora sleeping bags.
“Once it snowed Sunday, the snow toys started going fast, too,” Kortlever said.
A couple dozen Pelican sleds with brakes and fewer than 40 Black Ice Pelican Snowboards remain stacked in the toy storage area.
Kortlever and Judy Thies use the previous year’s inventory lists to order the toys in May, when it is difficult to predict which toys will end up on children’s Santa lists. “This year, the first to go were the tents, skateboards and a big bag of mega-blocks. Last year, we couldn’t give away the mega-blocks. We had to package them with another toy to make them attractive,” Kortlever said.
What’s really surprised her, though, is the volume of poor people coming to the bureau.
“What I feel good about is that we ordered all good toys. No matter what is gone, it’s not just junk left; we still have a selection of good-quality toys,” she said.
Checking her list, Kortlever said that plenty of dolls remain. “We ordered 60 Barbies with motorcycles this year,” she said. About half of the 250 body pillows remain, and Kortlever said there are still plenty of remote-control trucks, and ride-on toys, such as firetrucks, Turbo Trikes, and Clifford The Big Red Dogs.
“There are also plenty of games. Clue, Operation, the electronic Sudoku, poker, Mexican train games and the 10-in-one game set were popular in past years,” said Kortlever.
The Spokane Chiefs hockey club delivered nearly a thousand teddy bears and other stuffed toys Tuesday to the Christmas Bureau. The toys were donated by hockey fans in a Teddy Bear Toss during Saturday night’s hockey game. Huge teddy bears and moose were added to the toy room. The hundreds of smaller fuzzy animals, such as penguins, spiders, tigers, monkeys and lions, were given to children as they left the bureau on Tuesday. Volunteers expect those will be gone today.
The Christmas Bureau depends almost entirely on donations from generous community members to the Christmas Fund. Donations of $12,811 boosted the fund to $167,609. But with nearly 6,500 toys already given to poor children, and $102,775 worth of food vouchers distributed, there is a great need for more donations. The goal is $485,000 and donations of all amounts are welcome.
Following are the donations and their donors (online donations were subject to a 3.2 percent PayPal fee):
Jon and Valerie Eliassen, of Otis Orchards, donated $500, as did John Baumhofer, of Spokane, in memory of his mother. Cyrus and Janet Vaughn, of Spokane, gave $500 in memory of Robert Maris.
Bill McInerney donated $485.20 via PayPal.
The Association of Retired Avista Employees, of Spokane, gave the $482 donated by members of the association at their meeting on Dec. 6.
An anonymous donor, of Deer Park, gave $350.
Judy and Larry Shook, of Spokane, donated $300, as did Sandra Willcocks, of Spokane, and the Pediatric Association of Spokane. Laurene Dixon, of Spokane Valley, sent $300, “to help the little ones.”
Art and Terri Henry, of Spokane Valley, donated $275 on behalf of the eight Henry grandchildren, Jamie, Stacie, Shelby, Sydnee, Alexis, Lauryn, Libbie and Jaxon, and the three Honey’s Hunnies, Crystal, Caitlyn and Chase, “to help make Christmas wonderful for all families,” they wrote.
Dennis and Jan McMann, of Newport, Wash., donated $250, as did Younker Bros. Equipment & Engine Sales, Inland Gear, and an anonymous donor, all of Spokane.
Paulette and Jerry Firor, of Spokane, donated $200, as did Burton and Shirley Pendleton, H.B. and L.B. Pilcher, Allan and Marian Morrison, William and Georgette Savitz, Bill Molsberry Family Dental Care, and an anonymous donor, all of Spokane.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $200 in memory of Donna Hanson. Anonymous donors, also of Spokane, gave $200 in memory of their son, Jack.
Bev Massie, of Spokane, sent $200 in memory of her husband, Alan, “who so loved the good work you do, as do I.”
Jim and Elaine Peplinski, of Spokane Valley, sent $200 in memory of brothers Wayne and Cal and cousin Larry. Janet and John Hooper, of Liberty Lake, gave $200 in honor of their great-grandchildren Bailey, Keegan, Peyton and Adara. Noreen Groh, of Odessa, Wash., donated $200 in memory of Frank and Pauline Groh and C.H. and Lydia Scrupps. An anonymous donor, of Spokane, gave $200 in memory of Al and Lillian Rudolf.
Roger Tompkins donated $193.90 via PayPal.
Marion and Lowell Severud, of Spokane, donated $175 in memory of John E. Lovgreen. “He would be very pleased to know how much the Christmas Fund helps those in our community,” they wrote.
Dorothy Hart, of Spokane Valley, gave $150, as did Steve Socha, of Spokane, as part of a Chubb & Son Inc. Matching Gift Program.
Albert and Jean Pistorius, of Hayden Lake, Idaho, donated $100, as did Bob and Jeanne Dault, of Yuma, Ariz.; Joe and Pam Ridlington, and William and Charlotte Donahue, all of Mead; Kirsten and Michael Harrington, Alexis and John Chasse, Julie and Mark Nevdahl, John and Zoe Ann Foltz, Steven and Bev Booras, Valerie and Michael Adams, Ruth Lambert, Shirley and Edward Bell, and Michael and Karen Mohr, all of Spokane.
Gerald Durand, of Spokane, donated $100 in memory of his mother, Mary J. Cummins, “who always tried to give more to those who had less.”
Charlotte Campbell, of Spokane, donated $100 in memory of Janice and Bruce.
Marjorie Peterson, of Spokane, donated $100, as did Dave and Connie McGovern, Jack and Phyllis Worden, and three anonymous donors, all of Spokane, and an anonymous donor, of Nine Mile Falls.
Morris Gaylord, of Las Vegas, Nev., sent $100 in memory of his mother, Myrtle Gaylord. “For over 30 years she gave $1 to the first child to bring a buttercup to the Spokane Daily Chronicle editorial office every year. In her daily column, she saluted those who did good deeds with a ‘buttercup,’ ” Gaylord wrote.
Frank and Jeanette Ide, of Spokane, donated $100 in honor of Irene Horrigan.
Colleen Birchill, of Spokane, donated $100 in memory of her husband, “who always gave to the Christmas Fund.” The Hobnailers Hiking Club, of Spokane, sent $100 and a note: “As we hike, we also clean up the highway. This is money collected from the cleanup.”
Jerry, Dawn and Megan Goertz, of Medical Lake, gave $100 in memory of Herb and Florence Goertz. Susan, Ken and Wills, of Spokane, sent $100, “and blessings of togetherness for all your families. We are truly thankful for ours.”
Mark Hoover donated $96.80 via PayPal, as did Harry Sladich, of Spokane.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane Valley, gave $60.24.
Harold and Diane Watters, of Cheney, donated $50, as did Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Chandler, of Newport, Wash.; Patti and Clinton Degenhart, Gregory and Melodie Olsen, Dianna Jenson, and two anonymous donors, all of Spokane; and an anonymous donor, of Mead.
Aaron Gathier, of Spokane, gave $48.25 via PayPal, as did Lisa Talbott.
Bruce and Marcia Plewman, of Spokane, donated $40, as did Jean and Irving Kiehn, also of Spokane. Cynthia Vaught, of Spokane, gave $40 in memory of Laveta Stoy.
Gordon and Judy Landberg, of Spokane, sent $35, as did an anonymous donor, also of Spokane.
Cyrus McLean, of Spokane, donated $30, as did Shirley Schoenleber, also of Spokane.
Harold and Jan Olstad, of Nine Mile Falls, donated $25, as did Madaline Queener, of Spokane Valley; Glenis Brantley, Ed Carlson, Sherry Colliton, Ellen Nelson, Shirley Nelson, and Willabelle Godfrey, all of Spokane.
Hilma Bloomsburg, of Worley, Idaho, donated $25 in memory of her aunt, Audrey Parmly. Geneva Donahue, of Spokane Valley, donated $25 in memory of her husband, Ted Donahue.