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Record number of families, from all over, helped by fund

Early on, organizers of The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund said the need was great.

Turns out, it also was widespread.

The 11,350 families served by the Christmas Bureau this year hailed from three states and 112 ZIP codes. At least 182 families were homeless.

The Christmas Bureau is a 10-day event held at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center every December 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 by donations from the community.

This year’s bureau, which closed Saturday, served a record 35,883 people, distributing $331,460 worth of food vouchers and 17,877 toys for children. That’s 15 percent more people served than in 2008, although the bureau closed for two days last year due to heavy snowfall, and 11 percent more than in 2007, which held the previous record with 32,429 recipients.

The average monthly income of the households represented this year was $1,058, compared with $1,093 in 2008.

Hillyard, with 2,032 families, represented the largest neighborhood or region the bureau served. Spokane Valley, with 1,527 families and the Logan neighborhood, with 1,144, were the next-largest groups.

The bureau served 43 Idaho families and one family with a Pennsylvania address. A handful of Washington families served live in Moses Lake, Quincy, Olympia and other outlying places, but the vast majority live inside Spokane’s city limits or on its edges.

Among children, the largest age group represented were 2-year-olds: 714 boys and 636 girls.

New donations

Thanks to $32,317 in new donations, the Christmas Fund now totals $448,807 and is much closer to this year’s $500,000 goal.

An anonymous couple from Spokane gave $5,000 and wrote:

“We are so thankful for all the work you do and for the opportunity to help others. Anything that warms the cold, shelters the homeless, feeds the hungry or makes a child smile is truly a worthy endeavor. Have a most joyful and blessed Christmas.”

Jeff and Cynthia Corrick, of Spokane, donated $1,500, and Paine Hamblen LLP, of Spokane, gave $1,125.

Carmela Conroy, Consul General of the United States in Lahore, Pakistan, sent $1,000 in memory of her grandparents Forrest and Elsie Conroy and Mark and Marie Hood. The Spokesman-Review featured Conroy in 2008 because she volunteered at the bureau while on leave from her former post in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Vickerman and Driscoll Financial Advisors Inc. gave $1,000 on behalf of its clients, and JMA Commercial Real Estate LLC gave $1,000 in lieu of gifts for clients, customers and tenants.

“I truly appreciate your efforts every year to provide as many local families as possible the means to have a happy holiday season,” wrote Jamie Traeger, owner of JMA.

The University High School faculty donated $889.

“We are proud to show our spirit as Titans,” they wrote. “We commend your efforts, and we wish you the best in reaching this year’s goal.”

Two anonymous donors gave $500 each, as did Bill and Mabel McInerney, of Priest Lake, Idaho, and Shirley and Gary Branson, of Liberty Lake.

Diane and Einar Larson, of Almira, Wash., sent $450. Melanie Cantu, of Mead, sent $430.

“Our Lovely Ladies Lunch group along with William Webster at Zola raised this donation at our annual Christmas Lunch in hopes to give others a very happy holiday,” Cantu wrote.

Two anonymous donors gave $300 each, as did Alpha Iota Spokane Alum and William Alcorn.

The employees and owners of Bernardo Wills Architects PC donated $600 instead of holding a company gift exchange.

“We asked each person to decide upon their donation amount and the company would match the employees,” wrote office manager Gretchen Renz. “Thank you for providing such a wonderful opportunity to help others during this special time of the year.”

Spokane residents Robert and Flora Smick sent $250, as did Delphine and Donald Ladd, of Spokane, “in thanks for our many blessings of family.” Jim and Judy Stinson gave $250 in memory of Walt Thorp and Hank Coplen, “two great ‘B’ guys.”

Two anonymous donors sent $200 each, as did past and present members of the Rosauers #10 Fantasy Football League “on behalf of our neighbors who are struggling”; Spokane Valley residents Philip and JoAnn Anderson; Rosalia residents Dick and C.J. Schmidt, who wrote, “We want to share our happiness with others”; Spokane residents Jody and Bill Franks; and Robert and Diane Harber, who said, “We are happy to be able to donate this year to the fund in hopes it will bring Christmas to another child, another family.”

John Dowd, of Spokane, gave $150, as did Nine Mile Falls residents Rick and Joan Haynes on behalf of their grandchildren Alivia, Adam and Ava.

“Peace to all,” the Haynes family wrote.

Donald and Eleanor Limmer, of Liberty Lake, donated $130.

Four anonymous donors sent $100 each, one thanking the bureau for making the holidays brighter for people facing hard times. Also giving $100 were the Inland Empire Education Consortium; Coffman Engineers, which gave in the name of Garco Construction as part of a series of donations it made to charities on behalf of its clients; Richard Robinson; Susan and Larry Hales and Luton; Douglas Jayne; Cathy and David Williams; Frank Neeri; and Milisa Bailey.

The following Spokane residents donated $100:

Ruth E. Lambert; James Marshall; James and Leonette Hiller; Mark Houston; Billie Pierce; Christa and Tony Bledsoe, who thanked the bureau for helping needy families over the years; Martina and Derek Tyler; Richard Ahlquist Jr.; Richard and Karen Steele; Kathleen and Hugh Lackie; Karen and Stephen Kraft, in memory of Stephen’s brother Fr. Tom Kraft, O.P.; Steven and Elizabeth Hitch; Michael and Lachele Altig; Tom and Cathy Hopkins, who thanked the bureau for the opportunity to share their blessings; Connor and Jamie Spawn, in honor of their teachers Mrs. McCann and Mrs. Layton at St. Thomas More School; the Swains, in memory of “Bubbe” Teri Caton; Jim and Margo Walesby; and Robert Dietz, in memory of Rosalie and Henry Dietz.

“Thanks for making Christmas special for those who need it the most,” Robert Dietz wrote.

Spokane Valley residents Lloyd and Harriet Jacobson gave $100, as did Jerrie and Randall Allard, of Nine Mile Falls; Teri and Paddy Inman, of Mead, who wrote, “Thank you for the Christmas joy you spread to so many!”; and Gene Hubbell, of Palm Desert, Calif., who gave in memory of Clifford and Pearl Hubbell.

John and Sandra Nolting, of Spokane, donated $75, and Katie, Emily, Mackenzie and Jamie Morgan sent $60 in memory of their grandfather, C.G. Horton, who recently passed away. “He will be in our hearts forever,” the Morgans wrote.

Five anonymous donors gave $50 each, one couple in thanksgiving for their many blessings.

Also giving $50 were Marian; Appleway Florist and Greenhouse’s Santa Claus; Dawn Hirakawa, in memory of Lorraine Hirakawa; Del and Bernadeane Blackburn, of Worley, Idaho; Spokane Valley residents Bruce and Nancy Wendleberg, in memory of their parents Al, Ruth, John, Kay and Gail; Steve and Karen Clemens, of Fairfield, who thanked the bureau for its good work; and the following Spokane residents:

Dianne Bongarts; Sherwood and Mary Orvik, in memory of Florence, Roger, Janet and Jerome Orvik; Patricia Early; Chris Vandervert and family, in memory of Don Vandervert; William and Donna Claire Stewart, in memory of Donna Claire’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Albert L. Olson, “who were longtime residents of Spokane and loved the city and its people”; Nancy MacKerrow; and Leslie and Lois Albert.

Jan Hunt, of Oldtown, Idaho, donated $33 in memory of her daughter, Dawn Hunt, who died at a young age and would have turned 33 this year.

“Merry Christmas to all the volunteers that made it possible for so many people to have a joyous holiday,” Hunt wrote.

Melodie and Robert Little, of Spokane, sent $30 in memory of Elwin Olcott, “who loved donating to the Christmas Fund. Thanks for your work!”

Toni Kitterman and Katherine Stewart, of Millwood, each sent $25 in memory of Toni’s niece and Katherine’s cousin, Michelle Lee Kitterman.

“Forever in our hearts,” Toni wrote.

Three anonymous donors sent $25 each, one in memory of Joe and Irene Lynch, and one in honor of her mother, “who was a regular anonymous donor to the fund and due to health issues is no longer able to participate herself. Having grown up in Spokane, I loved reading the daily articles about the fund during the holiday time. May God continue to bless people through this fund.”

Also giving $25 were James Fredee Littrell and the following Spokane residents:

Patricia Clark, who thanked the bureau for the great job it does; Betty and Max Saxton; Margaret Knapp; and Roberta and Lee Bowden.

Andrea Watts, of Spokane Valley, donated $20 in memory of her daughter Jennifer Hornstra, nephew Kenny Beach and father Rocky Beach.

Mike Kraft, of Spokane, sent $15 in memory of his brother, Fr. Tom Kraft, O.P., “who last served the people of God in the Mexicali missions and Blessed Sacrament, Seattle.”

An anonymous donor gave $10.

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


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