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Christmas Bureau helps the homebound too

 (Molly Quinn / The Spokesman-Review)
(Molly Quinn / The Spokesman-Review)

Alice Cross, 84, doesn’t get out much. She saves up her jokes.

Have you heard the one about the prostitute and the cyclist? No problem. She has a string of knock-knocks. “Alpaca who?”

Cross, who lives in a small apartment in downtown Spokane, is one of 375 people confined to their homes who’ll receive grocery vouchers this year from the Christmas Bureau. The bureau will distribute other vouchers, along with toys and books for children, for 10 days at the fairgrounds.

Cross has endured open-heart surgery, knee replacement surgery and removal of a 15-inch section of her intestine. She’s twice injured a wrist, the first time dancing at a grandson’s wedding.

She is a mother of three, a grandmother of seven and a great-grandmother of four; her husband, a rodeo rider, died 32 years ago.

Her mother died when she was 8. She spent 3  1/2 years in a Seattle orphanage – years she remembers fondly, because the food was great and she learned useful skills there, such as cooking and ironing with starch – before moving in with her foster mother.

A certificate on her wall thanks her for her advocacy work for Aging and Long Term Care of Eastern Washington. She’s been the head of bingo at her building for a decade.

She’s not sure how she’ll spend her voucher. But she can’t wait to tell you this: “Alpaca sweater. It’s cold outside.”