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Words of thanks are high notes

A generous community gave more than 30,000 needy people the gift of Christmas cheer this year. Donors to The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund have given more than $512,000 so the area’s poor families could get toys for their children and food for a holiday dinner.

People who went to the Christmas Bureau for holiday fixings often express gratitude to the volunteers, and many send notes.

“Thank you so much for this wonderful gift. We will have a great Christmas because of your kindness,” wrote Beth, who did not sign her last name on a note.

“I know my children will love the books and toys. And I will buy meat – chicken and pork – with the food coupon. Last year the meat lasted quite a while. Your generosity reminds me of the wonderful ways our Lord provides,” Beth continued.

“Christmas Bureau, thank you so much for the extra help during this wonderful holiday season. God bless all of you,” wrote the Smiths.

“From a family in need this holiday season, thank you,” wrote the Collins family.

“Thank you again. You have warmed my Christmas again,” wrote Linda Robins. “Even though my children have all grown, being low income, I still need your $15 food certificate. Thank you deeply.”

An effort of this magnitude wouldn’t happen without all the donors in this community, says volunteer Christmas Bureau director Carol Speltz. “From the person who gives $10 to the donations of tens of thousands, it speaks to the generosity of local people.”

The effort also depends on the commitment of hundreds of volunteers who staff the bureau at the fairgrounds for 12 days, Speltz says.

“They return year after year and give their time at this very busy time of year,” she says. “Even those who worked in the back room putting together the dog ride-on toys and tricycles, what a gift to those parents who don’t have to assemble them at home.”

The legacy of the bureau, Speltz says, is treating others like you would want to be treated. “Some of the recipients are difficult, but if you can remember that for some of them, this is all they will have for Christmas, you can be gracious.

“What we get back over and over at the bureau is the overwhelming gratitude of the recipients.”

The Christmas Fund passed its goal of $485,000 on Saturday, but with more than 10,000 needy families going to the bureau for help this year, organizers say the bills will reflect that increased need.

Donations of all amounts will be welcome through Friday. Any donations received after that date will be applied to next year’s Christmas Fund.

The daily tally of $11,600 was led by a $5,000 donation from the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene offices of Witherspoon, Kelley, Davenport & Toole. “The firm recognizes the importance of contributing to a cause that is committed to helping persons in need, particularly at this time of year. We selected the Christmas Fund in particular because of its ongoing commitment to help persons in the Spokane area. It is with great pleasure that we present this donation to the Christmas Fund on behalf of the firm and our employees,” wrote firm president William D. Symmes.

Following are the donations and their donors:

Peter and Susan Fern, of Spokane, donated $2,500.

Employees at the Broadway Flying J Travel Plaza of Spokane donated $500, as did employees at BPS Supply Co., also of Spokane.

An anonymous donor, of Spokane, gave $450.

Laborers’ Local No. 238, of Spokane, donated $300, as did an anonymous donor, also of Spokane, who sent thanks to the newspaper, Catholic Charities and Volunteers of America “for the time, effort and compassion of the volunteers to make this holiday just a little more special for those less fortunate.”

Celia Garceau, of Spokane, donated $250.

Scott McGann, Amy and Kathi, of Payne Financial Group, donated $215 on behalf of their clients. “Again this year, in lieu of purchasing gifts for our clients, we wish to provide the less fortunate in our community with a little Christmas cheer. We appreciate the donors and volunteers who make this Christmas season a little happier for those you touch,” McGann wrote.

John and Teri Ann Nystrom, of Liberty Lake, gave $200. Roy and Clara Donder, of Spokane, previously gave $200.

The Holy Family Hospital Ambulatory Surgery Center, of Spokane, donated $150 in lieu of exchanging Christmas gifts. “This has become a tradition in our department,” they wrote.

Paul Cottrell, of Spokane, donated $100, as did Emily Wilsey, Les Hunt, Theodore and Diane Ketcham, Pamela Medley and R.W. Ulberg, Wayne and Joyce Attwood, James and Sharman Watson, and Dick and Shirley McGee, also all of Spokane.

Lance and Cami Halsey, of Liberty Lake, gave $100 in memory of Lynda Valley.

Empire Lumber Co., of Spokane, sent $100 and a note: “As the holidays close in on us, it is time to think of those less fortunate and to reach out to help them. Those of us in the forest products industry understand the difficult times. Empire Lumber would like to continue its tradition of foregoing its Christmas lunch for the 14th year, in order to help our neighbors. Empire Lumber wishes to add this donation to the wonderful spirit of sharing that our community exhibits.”

Hans and Gladys Johnson, of Spokane, sent $50, as did Elizabeth Sweigart, and an anonymous donor, both of Spokane.

Bob Alexander, of Spokane, donated $30, as did Agnes Rablin, of Cheney, who gave in memory of her mom, Harriett Doyle.

An anonymous donor, of Spokane, gave $25.