With two days remaining in the Christmas Bureau operation, bureau organizers are keeping a close eye on the toy and candy inventory.
Volunteer toy buyers shopped on Monday to replace the depleted teen gifts and added 300 watches, sleeping bags, CD players and electronic Sudoku games to the toy room on Tuesday. By Wednesday afternoon, most of those gifts were also gone.
“We will be fine on dolls, cars and makeup, but we may need to go get a few more teen gifts. It’s a day-to-day thing. We don’t want to get to the final day and just have to hand people a basketball,” said toy buyer Janelle Kortlever. “We would like them to at least have a choice between two items in each age group even on the last day.”
Only 591 needy families went to the bureau Wednesday for the fixings of Christmas, the lowest number this year. Organizers cited the rainy weather as the reason. Vouchers totaling $16,240 were distributed and parents picked out toys for 844 needy children.
Volunteer bureau director Carol Speltz said there are plenty of bags of candy remaining so every family will get one.
Donations to the Christmas Fund, which pays the bills for the Christmas Bureau operation, are approaching the goal of $485,000. The daily tally of $40,055 brought the fund to $414,621. While the bureau closes on Friday, donations will be welcomed through Dec. 28.
Community members also continue to donate to the charity in other ways. Speltz said that on Tuesday, a man dropped off two telescopes at the bureau, but declined to leave his name. “They still had price tags on them of $79.98,” Speltz said. The telescopes were added to the toy room and quickly selected by parents with teen children.
Other donations included 20 pounds of coffee from Cravens Coffee Co., and hundreds of sandwiches for the volunteers’ lunches, provided by Arby’s.
The accountability of the charity jumped this year with the donation of customized software, written and installed by Ben Wadden, the owner of SpokaneConsulting, a Web hosting and Web design company.
“This is a better, faster way of processing the clients and keeping track of the inventory. This allows the bureau to know that its policies are being followed and that there is accountability to the donors,” said volunteer Hal Ellis, who retired from the computer industry and moved to Spokane six years ago. “Our other system was six years old, and as the bureau increased in numbers and complexity, we needed to upgrade the software.”
Ellis estimates Wadden’s donation of time is worth thousands of dollars. “He was out here a number of days installing and revising the program. He and his wife had a baby boy this week, but if we called, he would still answer his phone and help us out,” Ellis said.
Bureau director Theresa Dryden said that First Night Spokane donated 100 admission buttons to the bureau. The buttons are tickets to the festivities in downtown Spokane on New Year’s Eve.
“We distributed those to adults with no children who came in early this week. It is a gift to them so they can have a night out at a cultural event,” Dryden said.
The Christmas Fund tally was led by generous donations from Acme Concrete Paving and an anonymous donor. Donations of all amounts are welcome.
Following are the donations and their donors (online donations are subject to a 3.2 percent PayPal fee):
Acme Concrete Paving Inc., of Spokane, donated $5,000, as did an anonymous resident of Fairwood Retirement Center, also of Spokane, in honor of her 10 grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and in memory of two good friends, Louise Smith and Dick Merrill.
The Spokane Regional Plan Center sent $2,000. “Since 1994, the Spokane Regional Plan Center and its members have been proud to donate to this most worthy cause; this year we continue that tradition. We further challenge other construction-related organizations to donate whatever they are able and hope all those in the area that are considering a donation keep in mind the families and children these donations benefit. The need is great and it is important that we all do what we can to make the holidays a little brighter for those less fortunate right here in our own community,” wrote chairman Scott Cramer. “We appreciate the dedication of all your volunteers and staff making the Christmas Fund a reality. It epitomizes the true spirit of Christmas giving.”
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $2,000.
Bernardo Wills Architects, of Spokane, and its employees donated $1,540. “It is a privilege to be donating to this wonderful cause again. As in years past, we asked our employees what they would like to do for the company holiday gift exchange and they agreed to donate the gift money to the Christmas Fund. We asked each person to decide upon their donation amount and the company would match the employees. Thank you for providing such a wonderful opportunity to help others during this special time of year,” they wrote.
Dale Conboy, of Spokane, donated $1,500 on behalf of his extended family. Michael Flannery, of Spokane, sent $1,500 in memory of Norah O. Flannery.
Greg Speer, of Hauser Lake, Idaho, donated $1,000, as did Matthew Phillipson, “in honor of the fine employees at Sweet Swiss, Karlea, Erica, MaLissa, Susie, Lori, Amber, Karen, Jan, Julie and Bridget.” An anonymous donor, of Spokane, gave $1,000, as did an anonymous donor, of Usk, Wash.
The Clearwater Summit Group Inc., of Spokane, sent $1,000 and a note: “We are pleased to participate in the Christmas Fund. It is important to share and contribute to such causes in our community. We appreciate all of the efforts that go into making the fund so successful.”
Jay Wittenkeller donated $970.70 via PayPal.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, gave $504.
The staff and management of Ag Enterprise Supply Inc., of Cheney and Wilbur, Wash., donated $500, “as a gesture of thanks to all of our customers who have given us so many years of success. It only seems right that as we make our livings from the agricultural community, we pass the rewards of our harvest on to others in need,” they wrote.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $500. “We both volunteer our services and know how difficult it is for many of our citizens to get by day to day,” they wrote. “Your effort gives heart to our entire city and provides a wonderful boost to those who are faced with these daily hardships.”
Esther Nelson, of Spokane Valley, sent $500, “in gratitude for giving us the opportunity to share in caring for so many in need.”
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $500 and a note: “Many blessings to Catholic Charities, Volunteers of America and The Spokesman-Review for giving us the opportunity to share this holy season with those of our community who struggle each day to provide for their families.”
Robert and Helen Shanewise, of Spokane, donated $500, as did Pat Lynass, also of Spokane.
Ronald and Diane Kaufman, of Spokane, donated $400, as did Claude and Mable Mitson, also of Spokane. An anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $400 in memory of Mom and Peggy.
The Spokane Inland Empire Chapter of Ex-P.O.W.s sent $300 and a note: “Once again, we few remaining P.O.W.s are happy to send our contribution to your worthy cause. We know the price of freedom and are proud we could do our part to keep America a strong democracy,” wrote the group’s commander, Jerry Gleesing.
Mary and Bob Eckenrode, of Spokane, sent $300 in lieu of gifts to their children, Tom and Caryn Aaker, Susan and Steve Wiegele, Sara and Patrick Findlay, Mark and Kati Eckenrode and Matthew Eckenrode. “We have been so blessed and we are happy to be part of blessing others with this gift. Thank you for making this way of giving possible,” they wrote.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, gave $300.
Carlie and Rebecca Bundy, of Deer Park, donated $260.
Timothy and Camille Schmidt, of Valleyford, Wash., donated $250, as did Anita Lamp, of Spokane; Richard Steury, of Liberty Lake; Laura and Sheldon Luck, of Spokane; and an anonymous donor, of Greenacres.
Bob and Lenore Romney, donated $250. “Thank you for this wonderful event that allows the people in the Spokane area to help each other this holiday season,” they wrote.
Jack and Kathleen Ossello, of Spokane, sent $250.
Bill, Deanna, Chelsea and Rachel Jones, of Mead, sent $200 in honor of their parents/grandparents, Bob and Margaret Kuehl and Kathy and Daniel Jones.
Philip and Joann Anderson, of Veradale, donated $200, as did Joanne and William Jones, of Liberty Lake; Nancy and Scott Stowell, Carl and Anna Rabe and an anonymous donor, all of Spokane.
Gene and Noreen Sivertson, of Spokane, donated $200 in memory of Jim and Charlotte Sullivan. Doreen Barrett, of Spokane, sent $200 on behalf of her daughter, Denise Fox. “We feel fortunate to be able to support your excellent work in our community for those who are in need,” wrote Barrett. Anonymous donors, of Veradale, gave $200 in memory of their mothers, “who loved Christmas.” Rhea Dow, of Spokane, sent $200 in memory of her sister, Naomi Sullivan.
Kathy LaSalle donated $193.90 via PayPal, as did Steven Anderson.
An anonymous donor, of Chattaroy, sent $151.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, gave $150.
The Bishop’s Guild of the Cathedral of St. John, in Spokane, donated $120.
Delores Taxter and family, of Spokane, donated $100, as did Paul Wham Inc., an executive training and coaching firm, of Elk; Blaine Krebs, of Mead; and Lloyd and Patricia Bobysud, of Spangle, Wash., who gave in memory of their parents, George and Marjorie Bobysud, and Dick and Eve Sterett.
The Inspiration Quartet – Dick Townsend, Dick Solberg, Bob Billings and Don Tipke – donated $100 and sang Christmas carols at the Christmas Bureau one day.
Nancy Edwards, of Spokane, donated $100, as did William and Mary Grafmiller, the Mader family, Bert Jacobson, Theodore and Suzanne Wall, the Toy Howerton family, Erlene Manning, Richard and Alice Hayes, James and Mary Dunn, Beverly Harvey, Dwight Aden, and three anonymous donors, all also of Spokane.
Colbert Elementary fifth-grader Evan Kamerer sent $100, as did Mr. and Mrs. Robert O’Brien, Jaynie Hansen, Mary Cameron, and Norma Echelbarger, all of Spokane Valley; Dave and Kathi Halpin, of Hayden, Idaho; and Virginia Jacobson, of Nine Mile Falls.
Trish and Dennis Baslington, sent $100 and a note: “We wish to share our blessings with others. Thank you for providing a way for us to share. Merry Christmas to each one of you.”
John and Elizabeth Mertens, of Spokane Valley, donated $100 in lieu of giving family gifts. Merta Boik, of Otis Orchards, donated $100, as did Frederika and Samuel Wetterhus, of Colbert, in memory of their son, Bob. Carolyn and Louis Runje, of Spokane, donated $100 in memory of Arlene and Mike Runje.
Christine Gamble, of Spokane, donated $100 in memory of her husband, Jim, “who passed away last year. He would have wanted to contribute.”
Dick and Delores Soldberg, of Greenacres, donated $75, as did an anonymous donor, of Spokane.
Barbara Tish donated $57.96 via PayPal.
Richard Martens, of Mead, donated $50.37.
Elizabeth and Dave Krise, of Spokane Valley, donated $50, as did Mary Harvill, of Deer Park; Jean Dalberg, Jane Courtright, Glen and Clarice Suko, Ernst and Rita Pickel, Robert and Susan Anselmo, Allen and Susan Hoover, and William and Jody Franks, all of Spokane.
Margaret Pansie, of Spokane, gave $50 in memory of her husband. Marjorie Wandler, of Spokane, donated $50 in honor of her brother, Bob Christensen, “who worked at the Christmas Bureau a long time.”
Monica and Eddy Nagashima, of Spokane, sent $50, as did David Whitney, Colleen McNichols, and six anonymous donors, all of Spokane; an anonymous donor, of Greenacres; and an anonymous donor, of Cheney.
The story in the newspaper about the donation by young Carson Valley inspired 10-year-old Matt Larson and 7-year-old Mike Larson, of Pullman, Wash., to donate $40.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $35.
Jan Hunt, of Oldtown, Idaho, sent $31 in memory of her daughter, Dawn Hunt, and her uncle, Clyde Timboe.
Claudia and Richard Kroll, of Nine Mile Falls, sent $30.
Angela Lalonde donated $28.83 via PayPal.
Pat and Margy Waddell, of Veradale, donated $25, as did Rob and Barb Bly, of Newman Lake; Roger and Pat French, of Spokane Valley; August and Sally Ricca, Daniel and Laureen Monasmith, William Hiatt, Phil Schumaker, Judith and William Anderson, and four anonymous donors, all of Spokane.
Cherie Foss donated $23.97 via PayPal.
Andrea Watts, of Spokane Valley, sent $20 in memory of her daughter, Jennifer Hornstra, nephew, Kenny Beach, and stepdad, Rocky Beach.
The Canniwai Grange in Marlin, Wash., donated $20.
Thomas and Catherine Duff, of Spokane, sent $10, as did two anonymous donors.
Jessie Suko donated $5.