People served at the Christmas Bureau operate on tight budgets. So does the Christmas Bureau.
The bureau’s business expenses total 4.3 percent or less of its budget – meaning donated money goes almost entirely to buy grocery vouchers, books and toys for families in need.
“For most nonprofits, if you can get an overhead that’s under 20 percent, you’re really happy, you’re popping champagne,” said Rob McCann, executive director of Catholic Charities Spokane, which puts on the event with The Spokesman-Review and Volunteers of America.
Since 2005, the bureau’s overhead has ranged from just under 2.9 percent to 4.3 percent, said Ann Marie Byrd, development director at Catholic Charities.
Comprising that overhead: a portion of the salary of Catholic Charities’ events coordinator, who also serves as the Christmas Bureau coordinator; wages for language translators, six this year; and wages for a volunteer coordinator.
The Spokesman-Review pays the bureau’s rent at the fairgrounds.
Everything else is donated by volunteers and local businesses. About 100 volunteers a day provide most of the manpower during the bureau’s 10 days in operation, and many put in long hours before it opens.
In-kind donations are varied and crucial to the operation:
• ABC Mini Storage loans a truck to haul equipment during setup and teardown.
• National Storage Centers donates storage space.
• Costco loans flatbed carts for hauling toys.
• Craven’s Coffee and URM Stores donated coffee. Craven’s also donated cups.
• Earthworks Recycling picks up loads of cardboard free of charge.
• Jim Custer Enterprises, working with LCD Exposition Services, donated labor and supplies – skirting, curtains, wreaths and more – to shape the formerly empty fairgrounds space into festive-looking rooms and orderly queues.
• Arby’s provides lunch for volunteers every day the bureau’s open.
• The House of Charity provides soup for volunteers each of those days and a whole lunch during setup.
• Service Paper Co. and Fred Meyer donated bags parents use to carry toys.
• Yoke’s Fresh Markets donate doughnuts for volunteers.
• Peaks & Plains medical supplier loans wheelchairs for recipients with disabilities to use.
• The Hoo-Hoo Express Club, a woodworkers group, donated 800 toy trucks to distribute to kids in the bureau’s child care area.
• Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Providence Holy Family Hospital worked with bureau organizers to collect 500 specific new toys, in bulk quantities, to distribute to children. (Normally the bureau doesn’t accept donations of toys.)
• The Providence Sacred Heart Children’s Foundation donated holiday cards that are given in packs to some recipients.
The newspaper received $17,850 in new donations to the Christmas Fund, raising the total to $197,049.28.
Northwest Farm Credit Services, of Spokane, donated $8,000. “We are pleased to be a part of our community’s effort to make Christmas a little brighter for those in need,” President and CEO Jay Penick wrote. “We’d also like to give thanks to the many volunteers who provide this wonderful service to our community.”
Theodore and Susan Olson, of Spokane, donated $1,000.
Ken Roberts Investment Management, of Spokane, donated $1,000. An accompanying note read: “We are thankful for your efforts on behalf of those that need assistance, and we appreciate all the donors and volunteers of Spokane that work together to make our community a better place for all.”
Benson the dog, who lives on Rockwood Boulevard in Spokane, donated $1,000. Wrote someone on his behalf: “Wishing all love, joy and peace this holiday season.”
The employees of Taylor Engineering, of Spokane, donated $1,000. A note signed by the company’s principals read: “We recognize that this year is particularly challenging for many and hope this can help make a difference.”
Larry and Patricia Bishop, of Spokane, gave $500, as did Harold and Sharon Cathcart, of Colbert.
The Bach family, of Spokane, donated $400. Dick and Trudy Raymond, of Spokane, gave $400 in memory of their parents, Tom and Marie Raymond and Don and Winnie Thomson. The Raymonds wrote: “Blessings to all of you who are helping to make a happy Christmas for everyone in the Spokane area.”
Stephen Peterson, of Spokane, donated $305.
An anonymous donor from Nine Mile Falls gave $300, as did Gretchen and Sean Lasalle, of Spokane.
Giving $250: an anonymous couple from Spokane; the Garceau family, of Spokane; and Richard and Lois Steury, of Liberty Lake.
Allan and Marian Morrison, of Spokane, gave $200, as did Leeanne Stallings, of Spokane.
Russell and Lisa Akerhielm, of Spokane, gave $150 in memory of Kathleen Rotchford, “whose loving generosity we will never forget.”
An anonymous couple from Deer Meadows, Wash., gave $125. Walter and Janice Utt, of Spokane, also gave $125.
An anonymous donor gave $100 “in memory of my parents. My father was a former volunteer.”
Spokane residents who gave $100: Annette LaCombe; Bob and Sharon Mellis; Carol and Cliff Rankin; Donna and John Leaming; two separate anonymous couples; Al and Vicki Falkner; an anonymous donor; and George Schroeder.
Also giving $100: Dorothy Hart, of Spokane Valley; Kathleen and John Roche, of Liberty Lake; Anna Presho, of Liberty Lake; Blaine Krebs, of Mead; Raymond and Debbie Siegel, of Greenacres; and Tom and Linda Dunham, of Chattaroy, who wrote: “It is an honor to be able to help in some small way and support this activity.”
Mary Benham, of Spokane, donated $75. “Especially happy to see that books are among your items” at the Christmas Bureau, she wrote.
Spokane residents who gave $50: Wayne and Nancy Wright; an anonymous donor; Leslie and Lois Albert; Kris Spelman, in memory of her great-aunt Elsie Altin and grandmother Violet Burgunder; Joan Pribnow; William Selzer Jr.; Ronald Doyen; Charles and Judy Smith; the Fox family; and Shirley Miller and Dan Felgar, in memory of Audry Dunton and Alberta and Ruth Felgar.
North Star Lodge No. 145, Vasa Order of America, of Spokane, gave $50. Spokane Valley resident John Remund gave $50 in memory of Jean Remund.
Gordon Landberg, of Spokane Valley, gave $40.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $35.
An anonymous couple from Spokane gave $30.
Spokane residents who gave $25: Ed and Pauline Carlson; Kenneth and Jill Severns; William and Judith Anderson; Debbie, Jay, Zack and Jenna Humphrey, in memory of Vera Romero; and Mary and Richard Hedrick. An anonymous donor gave $25, as did Maggie Muat, of Liberty Lake.
An anonymous donor from Spokane gave $20, as did an anonymous donor from Mead.