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Spokane

Groups to bring their gift of music to holiday bureau

Tue., Dec. 1, 2009

When Sean Kane took the job as Gonzaga Preparatory School’s director of choirs last year, the seniors in his jazz choir gave their new teacher a lesson.

“They said, ‘We have to do the Christmas Bureau. Have you talked to the people yet?’ ” Kane said. “I didn’t even know what it was.”

Kane figured it out soon enough and made sure his students were among the choirs that brought cheer to the bureau in 2008. G-Prep’s jazz choir will be back again this year, singing carols to recipients as they wait in line.

The bureau is a 10-day event that distributes food vouchers, toys and books to needy families. It’s organized by The Spokesman-Review, Catholic Charities and Volunteers of America and is funded through donations from the community.

Kane said the volunteer choirs spread Christmas joy at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center, where the Christmas Bureau is held.

“The Christmas Bureau (organizers do) a nice job moving everyone through, but it’s tough for people to stand in line there,” he said. “It’s not the same feeling as standing in line at River Park Square.”

Kane’s students will meander through the crowd, “casually caroling” to clusters of people.

That’s what Dick Solberg, of Liberty Lake, plans to do, too, when his barbershop quartet performs at the bureau Dec. 9. Members of the group, called Inspiration, plan to wear top hats and tuxedo tails “so we look like the Dickens carolers,” he said.

The quartet performs at events throughout the year, sometimes earning a stipend and sometimes donating their time and talent. At the Christmas Bureau, they sing for free – and always come with a donation for the fund.

This year’s will be the first Christmas Bureau appearance for Riff-Raff, a double quartet of women who sing a capella. The group planned to perform last year, but the mid-December snowstorms trapped members at home.

Group member Farol Stroyan, of Spokane, said the women always enjoy singing for a good cause.

“It brings joy to our hearts, as well as to the people that are listening,” she said.

Two other music groups plan to perform this year: a group of students from Reardan High School, and Big Bing Theory, an a capella group from Gonzaga University.

The bureau aims to raise $500,000, and thanks to three more donors, it’s making progress toward that goal. Monday’s donations bring this year’s total to $30,237.63.

NAI Black commercial real estate services gave $1,000 to the fund with a letter from company President John M. Bennett that read: “We at NAI Black have great respect for your mission and the manner in which you deliver your programmatic assistance to those in need.”

Jerry and Mary Anne Littlemore, of Spokane, gave $100 in memory of family members who have gone before them.

“We know that every bit of donations will help those in need this year,” the Littlemores wrote.

And Jacqueline Eide, of Odessa, gave $30.

One gift reported over the weekend – $20 from Thomas Richardson – was made in memory of Patrick J. Richardson.

Megan Cooley can be reached at (509) 459-5489 or meganc@spokesman.com.


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