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Christmas Bureau will open today

Sat., Dec. 20, 2008

Garco Construction donates $20,000 to help families

Thousands of community members, including businesses, individuals and families, church groups, and social clubs donate to The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund as part of the effort to provide a brighter Christmas for low-income families.

The Christmas Bureau will reopen for its final day today after being closed Thursday and Friday because of weather conditions.

Garco Construction and its employees gave the fund a big boost toward the goal of $495,000 with a $20,000 donation.

“We want to thank all of the community volunteers that make the Christmas Bureau a reality for those in our area that are most in need,” Garco President James Welch wrote.

“Since our company is fortunate to have projects located in other cities, we have told the employees in those areas about the Christmas Fund, and we are matching their contributions to the local charity of their choice. As is our custom, we are matching our employees’ contributions to the Christmas Fund, as well as any other local charity of their choice. This year our employees contributed over $6,000 to the Christmas Fund and over $3,000 to other charities,” Welch wrote.

“Again, thank you to The Spokesman-Review, Catholic Charities and the Volunteers of America, and all the volunteers that make this great event take place each year,” he wrote.

Donations to the Christmas Fund pay for the toys and food vouchers distributed at the Christmas Bureau to about 10,000 families. The inclement weather prompted bureau organizers to close the charity for Thursday and Friday, which is unprecedented in the six-decade history of the charity.

The bureau at the Spokane fairgrounds will be open today for its final day of operation this year. However, on Monday, weather permitting, food vouchers will be given out at Catholic Charities, 1023 W. Riverside Ave., and Volunteers of America, 525 W. Second Ave., from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Toys and books will not be distributed on Monday.

While some businesses support the Christmas Fund financially every year, a few local businesses donate services to the Christmas Bureau operation as well.

More than a hundred volunteers work each day at the charity. Arby’s owner Dave McGann provides sandwiches and salad for the workers’ lunch every day.

“He’s been doing this since the late 1990s,” said Jerry Pederson, director of operations for the five local Arby’s. “We really have a heart for the less fortunate in our community, especially single parents,” he said. “So many of our employees fit that demographic.”

Pederson also volunteered at the bureau four days this year. “Dave also usually volunteers and he regrets he is not able to be here this year,” Pederson said.

“There’s such a need in the community. It’s humbling to see what amount of money these families are trying to live on each month,” Pederson said.

Other local companies also provide food and coffee for the volunteers at the bureau. Yoke’s donates doughnuts daily, Craven’s donated fresh-ground coffee beans and the House of Charity makes a big pot of soup for the workers each day.

Following are the additional donors and the amounts of their donations:

An anonymous donor, of Spokane, gave $600 in memory of “Mom, Peggy and Rick.”

Paul and Kathy Lin, of Spokane, donated $500.

Carey and Julie Learn donated $499.76 via PayPal.

Frank and Nancy Bilbao donated $485.20 via PayPal.

David and Kay Stoltz, of Spokane, gave $300.

Dennis Hughes, of Deer Park, donated $200, as did Earl and Maryellen Adolphson, of Spokane; Scott and Sarah Creighton, of Veradale; and an anonymous donor, of Spokane.

Jeffrey and Theresa Utesch, of Veradale, donated $150, as did the Woman’s Club of Spokane; Brused Books, of Pullman; and Hugh and Loretta Knuttgen, of Spokane, “given in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” they wrote.

Lois Hunter, of Deer Park, sent $100, as did Denise Mutschler, of Cheney; Norma Echelbarger, and Robert Mueller, both of Spokane Valley; Dana and Mary Besecker, Robert Rousselle, Judy and Jon Gardner, the WSU Pediatric Nurses, Dennis and Lynn Flaherty, and five anonymous donors, all of Spokane.

Margaret Knapp, of Spokane, gave $100 in honor of the Erick Johnson family. Jim and Linda Hunt, of Spokane, donated $100, “for Krista, a joy forever.”

Ben Fawcett, of Spokane, donated $100, as did Dennis Pollock, E. Krauss, Clair Grondahl, Blue Dog Marketing, Spoke N Sport Inc., U-Save Insurance Agency, and Jim and Margo Walesby, all of Spokane.

Michael and Konni Dietz, of Mead, donated $75, as did an anonymous donor, of Spokane. Brian and Jill Vrablick, of Spokane, sent $75 and a matching donation of $75 from Northwest Management Inc., of Moscow, Idaho.

Verda Coryell, of Spokane Valley, donated $50, as did Joe and Becky Kramarz, Nancy Mackerrow, three anonymous donors, all of Spokane; and an anonymous donor, of Spokane Valley.

Courtney Spear donated $48.25 via PayPal. “My friends and I are feeling very fortunate this year, and have decided to give to our favorite charities instead of exchanging gifts. I chose this fund because I love knowing that all the proceeds help local families have a better Christmas,” she wrote.

Shirley Schrawyer also donated $48.25 via PayPal, “for the children of Spokane in loving memory of my son, Erik Jon Wells.”

Davy Adamson, of Spokane Valley, sent $35.

Patrick and Laurie Ferrell, of Mead, donated $25, as did William and Gelene Griffiths, of Nine Mile Falls; the Knox Presbyterian Church Ruth Circle, the Snip and Stitch Sewing Club, three anonymous donors, all of Spokane; and an anonymous donor, of Chewelah, Wash.

Clarence and Maxine Alloway, of Spokane, gave $25 in memory of their friend, Eddie Thompson. Dave and Bobbie McGann, of Spokane, donated $25 in memory of Elinore Biermann, “who loved Christmas and children so very much.”

Barbara Boltin donated $23.97 via PayPal.

An anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $20.09.

Ken and Jill Severns, of Spokane, donated $20.

Randy Williams donated $19.12 via PayPal.

An anonymous donor, of Clarkston, sent $10, as did an anonymous donor, of Spokane. An anonymous donor, of Spokane, gave $5, noting her “drastically reduced circumstances this year.”

Susan English can be reached at christmasfund@


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