Every donation to the Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund is valuable and needed, from the $5 bills sent inside Christmas cards to the large donations from businesses attached to company stationery.
Not only do the dollars add up to pay for the toys, food vouchers and books distributed to the almost 36,000 people the bureau serves, but they represent the care members of the Spokane community feel for one another.
But sometimes a donation comes in that drops jaws, such as the $50,000 check received from Garco Construction Inc. on Monday.
“We’ve been very fortunate the last few years in Spokane,” said Garco’s President James “Tim” Welsh, listing several of the company’s most recent projects. “It’s important for us to let the community know how much we appreciate that.”
Welsh grew up in the neighborhood surrounding Gonzaga University. His father died when he was 14, and his mother worked full time to support the family, said Garco Vice President Clancy Welsh, who is James Welsh’s son.
“He grew up under different circumstances,” Clancy Welsh said. “It’s always been important to him to give back, and he wants the next generation of (Garco’s) ownership to look at it the same way.”
One of Garco’s biggest projects in recent years was the modernization of Rogers High School, which is in the ZIP code with the largest number of Christmas Bureau recipients this year. Clancy said his company has been touched by the pride Rogers students feel when they walk through their school’s halls now. Although Garco’s leaders always put a high priority on giving to children in need, they kept those kids in mind when deciding how to donate to charities this year.
The Christmas Bureau is organized by The Spokesman-Review, Catholic Charities and Volunteers of America and has been a Spokane tradition since 1945. The bureau ran from Dec. 9 to Saturday and served 35,883 people.
Thanks to $97,323 in new donations, the Christmas Fund now totals $426,081 and is growing closer to this year’s $500,000 goal.
Another large donation came from Travis Pattern & Foundry, of Spokane, which gave $30,000.
“The owners and employees of Travis Pattern & Foundry again wish to donate the funds that we would have spent on a Christmas party to your fund,” wrote company President Travis W. Garske. “We hope we can help make Christmas a little brighter for some Spokane families.”
Jensen Distribution Services, of Spokane, gave $7,126 and wished everyone a merry Christmas and “the happiest of new years.”
DuPree Building Specialties, of Spokane, donated $1,000, as did Commercial Grading Inc., of Spokane Valley, which thanked the bureau for being there for those in need.
The staff at Deaconess Surgery Center and Recovery Room Units gave $550 in hopes of helping “many in Spokane have a better holiday season.”
Spokane Valley resident Patricia MacNeill sent $500, as did Spokane resident Ruth Pearson; Jim and Terry Coombes, of Nine Mile Falls; and the members of the Patten family: Georgene Patten, Barbara, Kelly, Tracy and Melissa Cunningham, Herb and Kathleen Patten, and Rich Patten. The Patten family gave in memory of Les Patten and to honor his tennis doubles partner Mickey Soss, a bureau volunteer, “with whom he won many doubles championships, as well as our special friend (and former Catholic Charities Executive Director) Donna Hanson, whose legacy continues to motivate us all in so many ways.”
C&C Yard Care Inc., of Spokane, donated $375. “We are proud to donate to such a generous cause helping others in our community,” wrote Chris Corigliano.
An anonymous donor sent $257, and John and Whitney Sestero, of Spokane, gave $250.
Two anonymous donors gave $200 each, one in memory of Devin Johnson. Also giving $200 were Spokane residents Lyle, Dawn and Melanie McKnight, and Tom and Virginia Burns.
Denise Mutschler, of Cheney, gave $150, as did Harris Properties, of Spokane Valley, and Russ and Lisa Akerhielm, of Spokane, who gave in memory of Kathleen Rotchford, “who gave so much of herself to those in need.”
A group of friends calling themselves “the Goners” sent $120 in lieu of exchanging gifts.
An anonymous donor gave $109 in memory of Dorothy Gordon. A Meetup group called Social in the City sent $106 because the bureau “helps so many families in need during the best giving holiday season of the year.”
Three anonymous donors sent $100, as did the following Spokane residents: William Pemberton, in memory of his wife, Dorothy; Virginia Robinette; Julie and Art Bookstrom, in memory of Ethel Maxfield; Brent and Gay Hoogner; Helen Casper, in memory of Andrew Casper; Keith Comes; Marla and Jerry Stephenson; Shannon O’Brien; the Mediation Center of Spokane; and Bryce and Cheryl Backus, in memory of family and friends who have passed and in honor of their first grandchild. “May we take this time to reflect on our many blessings and may the holiday spirit be felt all year long,” the Backuses wrote.
Spokane resident Donald Head sent $100 and wrote: “Sixty-five years ago, Dec. 19, 1944, I was captured in the Battle of the Bulge and was held as a prisoner of war for four months. I lost 70 pounds, and could hardly walk when liberated March 30, 1945. I had frost-bitten feet and did not like being a P.O.W. – an understatement. I’m glad I’m still able to contribute to your worthy cause.”
Also donating $100 were: Bill, Sandra, Ross and Jonathan, “for Yossarian”; Fernley NV, MaKayla, Christopher, Christen, Michael and Tyler Hatch in memory of Grandpa PT and Grandma Carolyn; Colbert residents George and Pamela Young, in memory of Daniel and Adeline Young; Bob and Dorothy Yohe, of Spirit Lake; John Eckart, of Mead; Leslie and Meredith Hilby, of Liberty Lake, who wished “for God’s grace for all the clients and volunteers at the Christmas Bureau. Thank you for all that you do for our community.”
For the 16th year, Empire Lumber Co., of Spokane, donated $100 instead of holding a Christmas lunch. “Empire Lumber wishes to add this donation to the wonderful spirit of sharing our community exhibits,” the company wrote.
EJ and Elaine Foerster, of Spokane, gave $75 in honor of the birthdays of Clara Fern and Teddy Turner and Wardé and Shibli Bayyuk. Donald Harding, of Spokane, gave $60.
Four anonymous donors sent $50, as did Spokane residents Larry and Deanna Neaver; Jerry and Jill Skogstad; Ted, Hilary and Hannah Smet, in memory of Brandi Smet Davis; Karen and Don Vandervert; Deanna Sommers; Blue Chip Autos; Katherine Strickler; and Terry, Dan, Mike and Tom Kelly, who gave in memory of their father, Robert Kelly. “Before he died, he always talked fondly of the S-R Christmas Fund,” the Kelly family wrote.
An anonymous donor gave $40, as did Bruce and Marcia Plewman, of Spokane.
The Wild Women Investment Club sent $32.50, and Cherie Foss gave $30.
William and Farol Stroyan donated $25, as did Spokane residents Betty Thompson; Edward McCormack; and Cheryl Scheideman; and Spokane Valley residents Diane and Lanny Crouse, in memory of parents Elmer and Ruth Krous; and Claire Schaubel.
An anonymous donor sent $20, as did Tammy and Mark McQuaig, of Spokane.
The Price family, of Fairchild Air Force Base, sent $10 and wrote: “Thank you for taking time out of your daily lives to help those in need. Many folks in our community will have a very merry Christmas because of you. Bless you!”
An anonymous donor gave $3.