The red carpet was rolled out at the Spokane fairgrounds Tuesday, ready for today’s opening of the Christmas Bureau.
Thanks to several local companies, the Ag Building is also festooned with red and white drapes, six-foot candy canes, huge lighted wreaths and swags with big red bows.
Clint and Cheryl Branz, owners of Jim Custer Enterprises, worked Monday and Tuesday to build toy rooms and child care and computer areas out of railings and drapes. They teamed up with Ken Quimby, of LCD Exposition Services, to transform the building.
The decorations are new this year. Cheryl Branz credits Senske Christmas Décor for making that happen.
“They said they would be happy to help,” Branz said. “It just takes the decorating here up another notch.”
The community’s willingness to help has impressed Branz since she and her husband became involved with the charity five years ago.
“After we helped with the setup one year, we called Ken at LCD and asked if he could come out and take a look and offer suggestions,” she said. “He was thrilled to help out.”
The two companies donate their services to the charity.
“Sometimes all you have to do is ask. And, really, that’s all the poor people who come here are doing,” Branz said. “They are asking for help with their Christmas.”
Donations to the Christmas Fund pay for toys and grocery vouchers distributed to the thousands of people who go to the Christmas Bureau.
A number of businesses, families and individuals responded generously to the need for donations. Two local companies, Landmark Restaurants and Kim Hotstart Manufacturing, each donated $8,000, bringing the daily tally to $29,199 and bumping the total to $145,713.
“The Onion Family Restaurants and Frank’s Diners are thrilled to send this year’s donation of $8,000, beating last year’s $7,200 donation,” wrote Landmark Restaurants’ Ken and Christy Belisle and Larry and Jan Brown. “Our locally owned company has about 190 employees who contribute all year long through voluntary payroll deductions. This year they raised $4,000 for the Christmas Fund and an additional $4,100 for other needy charities in the area.
“Our crew members from the downtown and North Division Onion Restaurants and downtown and North Spokane Frank’s Diners are excited to be able to participate in such a worthy cause. We are truly proud of our people,” wrote the owners.
“Each year Landmark Restaurant’s owners match what our crew members contribute. … Our company values that 100 percent of this money goes directly toward creating a merrier Christmas for children and families in and around the Spokane area,” wrote the Belisles and Browns.
Kim Hotstart Manufacturing Co., of Spokane, also donated $8,000, on behalf of the company’s employees.
“I know that all of our employees and the community appreciate your effort to help those less fortunate than us during this holiday season,” wrote CEO Rick Robinson.
Following are the names of additional donors and what they gave:
The Early Ford V-8 Club of America, Inland Empire Group, of Veradale, previously donated $1,000.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $1,000 in memory of Jim. Another anonymous donor, also of Spokane, gave $1,000.
Fidelity Associates Insurance and Financial Services, of Spokane, sent $1,000 and a letter: “On behalf of our board, our owners, our hard-working teammates, and our wonderful customers, Fidelity Associates Insurance and Financial Services is pleased to make a contribution to the Christmas Fund. We appreciate all that you do and the many lives that you touch. Thank you for making a difference in our community,” wrote President and CEO Scott K. Jones.
Shirley and Matt Alling, of Spokane, sent $500 and a note: “Once again Shirley’s mom asked that we send her gift to the Christmas Fund and we are matching her gift in hopes of a merry Christmas for all, in memory of our dads, Milbert Joachim and George Alling.”
An anonymous donor gave $485.20 in honor of Iva and Skip Louderback, via PayPal.
Michael McKinnon, of Spokane, donated $400.
The Association of Retired Avista Employees, of Spokane, donated $350, “continuing a tradition of donating to this worthy project.”
Peter and Sharon Fairchild, of Liberty Lake, gave $300, as did Gust Abariotes, of Spokane Valley; and Claude and Mable Mitson, also of Spokane Valley.
Dick and Trudy Raymond, of Spokane, sent $300 in memory of their parents, Tom and Marie Raymond and Don and Winnie Thomson. “Thank you for your efforts to help everyone to have a happy Christmas,” they wrote.
Skip and Barb Bonuccelli, of Spokane, sent $250 in memory of their friend Sharon Hoover. “Christmas is the time for giving. It is also when we feel the presence of angels. We donate to honor the life Sharon led, giving of herself to others. So many felt like she was their angel.”
Lyle and Shirley Moore, of Spokane, sent $250 in memory of Carol.
Wesley and Dorothy Newbill, of Otis Orchards, Wash., donated $250, as did the Vaughn family, of Spokane.
Gary and Sharon Randall, of Colbert, sent $240 in memory of their parents, Press and Margaret Cleveland and Les and Clara Randall.
Edward and Marjorie Ellefsen, of Spokane, donated $200, as did Lorna Stevenson, Eugene Fitzpatrick, Mr. and Mrs. L.R. Tompkins, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Bedford, and Burt and Shirley Pendleton, all of Spokane.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $200 and a note: “Merry Christmas and God bless all of you who are helping to make this Christmas better for so many less fortunate people. Our donation is in honor of our five loving children and 17 grandchildren, and in memory of our two deceased children.”
Dr. and Mrs. Richard Byrd, of Spokane, donated $175.
Joe and Anna Maria Cepeda, of Spokane, donated $150, as did Michael Howson, Virgil Duchow, and an anonymous donor, also all of Spokane.
Donald Fitzgerald, of Spokane Valley, gave $125.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, donated $115.
Gunhild Clegg, of Spokane, sent $100 and a poem recounting memories of a childhood Christmas, when she opened the front door and found a box filled with oranges, apples and a beautiful doll. “Who could have done such a magical thing,” she still wonders.
Michael and Karen Mohr, of Spokane, gave $100, as did the AARP Spokane Falls Chapter, Werner and Marlene Westhoff, Melvin and Darlene Griffith, Katherine and Pat Harper, Dolores Hein, and Cathi Lundberg, all of Spokane.
Betty and John Mertens, of Spokane Valley, sent $100 in lieu of giving family gifts.
Jim and Marlene McBride, of Nine Mile Falls, also sent $100 in lieu of exchanging gifts with their children. “It is especially important, this year, to reach out to those in need,” they wrote.
Robert and Flora Smick, of Spokane, gave $100 in memory of Lucille. An anonymous donor, of Spokane Valley, gave $100 in memory of Patti Fowler.
Charles and Hildegard Castleman, of Spokane, gave $100 in memory of their beloved son, Robert Douglas Castleman, and with many thanks for the opportunity to share with the less fortunate.
Margie Byers, of Spokane, donated $100 in memory of her dad, John L. Cooney.
The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Veterans’ Association, of Spokane, gave $100, as did Beverly Harvey, of Spokane Valley; Marcy Majeski, of Spokane; Paul Swinehart, of Tacoma; Michael and Marlene Dixon, and three anonymous donors, all of Spokane.
Elizabeth DeNiro donated $96.80 via PayPal.
The Wednesday Bridge Group, of Spokane, sent $80, as it has for several years. “We are grateful to be able to help these special people again this year,” they wrote.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane Valley, gave $75.
Navy Zone Supervisor Jeremy Gillespie, of Spokane, gave $60, as did Paul and Shirley Doneen, also of Spokane.
Cascade Park Mobile Home Owners Association, of Spokane, sent $50, as did Richard Martens, of Mead; Dick and Ann Collins, Willbann and Virginia Terpening, Tommy and Mary Jane Brown, and three anonymous donors, all of Spokane.
Chuck and Kathy Huggins, of Spokane, sent $50 and a note: “Thanks for helping us share with those in need this Christmas.”
James and Margaret Wagner, of Spokane, sent $50 in memory of Pat Ryan.
Soroptimist International of Spokane, a service club that formed in 1926, donated $50.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $50 in memory of Marc Dubois.
Nancy Hood, of Spokane Valley, sent $50 and thanks “for making it easy for me to help my community.”
Dave and Jackie Vasquez, of Spokane Valley, donated $48.25 via PayPal.
Nettie Wright, of Spokane, sent $35.
Betty and Matthew Collin, of Spokane, donated $25, as did Lawrence Smith, Esther Westtund, Vickie Borer, and Willabelle Godfrey, all of Spokane; Todd and Barbara Heaton, of Lincoln, Wash.; and Betty Wolf, of Spokane Valley.
The Garden Springs Happy Hour Club sent $25 and a note: “For a great many years the club has contributed to the Christmas Fund. In May, our small membership ended the club that had begun in the Depression years. One more time we agreed to contribute the remaining funds to the Christmas Fund. Thank you for letting us be a very small part of something so very great,” wrote the group’s secretary and treasurer, Elsie Ohlemacher.
Kathleen Winters, of Cheney, sent $25, as did Tom Hart, of Spokane.
The Canniwai Grange, of Marlin, Wash., sent $20.
Robert Stevens donated $14.26 via PayPal.
Meghan Faulkenberry, of Colbert, sent $10, as did an anonymous donor, of Spokane.
Susan English can be reached at email@example.com.