Escaping the office for a stint at the Christmas Bureau was a treat for Jenny McCauley – even if her volunteer position had her parked, again, in front of a computer.
At the Christmas Bureau, real live people sat on the other side of her monitor, providing their personal information for bureau records and accepting the food vouchers McCauley printed out for them.
“It’s really fun to talk to people,” she said. “I mean, come on, we’re accountants. We crunch numbers all day.”
McCauley volunteered with the rest of Avista’s seven-person corporate accounting department Wednesday, a day the bureau bustled with workers who arrived en masse through their employers. Workers from Providence Health Care and Cenex Zip Trip also pitched in.
Hospital executive Elaine Couture spent part of her day greeting people at the entrance, making sure they’d brought the ID required to obtain children’s books, toys and the vouchers.
“For me this is a real humbling experience, when you look and see people in the community who are in such great need,” said Couture, chief executive of Providence Holy Family Hospital and Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, which sent 50 volunteers. Providence employees also worked with bureau organizers to collect 500 new toys, in bulk quantities, to distribute to children. (Normally the bureau doesn’t accept donations of toys.)
“There’s a lot of suffering in our community that sometimes we don’t see,” Couture said.
The crew of 17 from Cenex Zip Trip performed various duties, such as stocking toys, greeting people at the door and handing out candy canes.
“We’ve got people who know how to get work done and do what it takes,” said Ian Johnstone, general manager. “I’m humbled and honored to have them do it.”
Finding spots for the big groups of people – many of them inexperienced in their volunteer positions – in the bureau’s intricate schedule was a challenge for Brigid Krause, the bureau’s volunteer coordinator.
But on Day 6 of the 10-day charity event, she was glad to have them.
“I’ve noticed today that there’s new energy here,” she said, as fresh-eyed newbies got their first glimpse of the operation, which last year served nearly 36,000 people.
Many hard-working regulars got breaks, Krause noted – and each volunteer is another person who can spread the word of the Christmas Bureau to potential recipients and donors.
Thanks to new donations, the Christmas Fund now stands at $241,823.12.
Carol and Rich Hendershot gave $1,000.
Another $1,000 gift came with this note: “The Weaver ‘kids’ wish to make this donation in loving memory of our dad and mom, Bob and Germaine, for whom giving to others was an important part of their lives together.”
Spokane residents who gave $500: Vincent Rogers; John Baumhofer, in memory of his mother; and an anonymous donor, who wrote: “I hope this helps make Christmas a little brighter for those who have had a tough year.”
Tim and Sally Quirk, of Spokane, gave $400.
Spokane residents who gave $300: Col. Claude and Mable Mitson; Marcia Tulloss; Patricia Houff; and an anonymous donor, who wrote: “There is no greater gift than the gift that helps others to have a better holiday.” Barry and Marilyn Rookey, of Nine Mile Falls, also donated $300.
Giving $200: Steve and Barbara Stoyanac, of Mead; Debbie and Terry Montgomery; Tim and Ann Riordon, of Veradale; and an anonymous couple from Liberty Lake.
Spokane residents who gave $200: Michael Jeffries; Jerry and Paulette Firor; and Gunhild Clegg, who wrote: “Once again it’s time to recall how much joy someone gave me many years ago and donate to this wonderful fund!” Larry and Tudy Hatch, of Spokane, gave $200 and wrote: “We appreciate our chance to help! You do a great service.”
Virginia Boyles, of Spokane Valley, gave $200 “in gratitude for my two wonderful grandchildren, Cassie and Seth Thompson, who help to make my life complete.”
An anonymous donor from Spokane gave $175.
An anonymous couple from Chattaroy donated $161.
Giving $150: an anonymous donor from Spokane Valley; Scott and Connie Brunell, of Spangle; Christine Gamble, of Spokane, in memory of her husband, Jim Gamble.
Jack and Phyllis Worden, of Spokane, donated $125.
Spokane residents who gave $100: two separate anonymous donors; James and Melissa Tipke; Richard and Alice Hayes; Ben and Eileen Fawcett; Theodore and Diane Ketcham; Delores Taxter and family; Paul and Kathy Cottrell; Lorraine Cannon; John and Sherry Gaiser; Sharon Grimmer; and Judy Walker, in memory of her husband, Gene Walker, “who cared that children could have a happy Christmas.”
More Spokane residents who gave $100: an anonymous donor; Mike and Melinda Hirst, in honor of their grandchildren, Will, Quincy, Sonny and Felix; Jim and Margo Walesby; and Jim and Evie Johnson, who wrote: “Sending peace, love and appreciation to volunteers and recipients alike. May your holidays be bright.”
Spokane Valley residents who gave $100: an anonymous couple; and Norma Echelbarger.
Giving $100: Nels and Deloris Nelson, of Liberty Lake; Daniel and Lorraine Klobucher, of Chattaroy; an anonymous couple from Veradale; Pete Sherve, of Northport, Wash.; Maureen Pring, of Mead, in memory of J.G. (Glenn) Pring; Janet and Richard Kroll, of Deer Park, in memory of Lisa Kroll; and Dawn, Megan and Jerry Goertz, of Medical Lake.
Also giving $100: Ron and Sharon Kile, of Rosalia, Wash.; Larry Weaver; Bert Jacobson; and Rosemary Twomey, of Round Lake, Ill. “Merry Christmas from Chicagoland,” Twomey wrote. “We loved Spokane!”
Kay Dixon, of Spokane, gave $80. Janet and Charles Watkins, of Newport, Wash., donated $80 and wrote: “The community is truly blessed to have this program.”
Bob, Pansy (PJ) and Zach George, of Spokane, gave $75.
Harvey and Dorothy Lochhead, of Spokane, gave $65.
An anonymous donor from Spokane gave $60.
Spokane residents who gave $50: Nancy Mackerrow; Thomas and Julie Overhauser; an anonymous couple; Elizabeth Kohler; Kathryn Urbanek; Connie Vetter; and Patricia and Clinton Degenhart. SCOPE Spring Hill, of Spokane, also gave $50.
Spokane Valley residents who gave $50: an anonymous donor; an anonymous couple; and John and Beverly Johnson. Others who gave $50: Susan and Kenneth Almon, of Nine Mile Falls; an anonymous donor from Loon Lake, Wash.; an anonymous couple from Medical Lake; Tom and Nancy Burke, of Coeur d’Alene; an anonymous donor in memory of their parents; and Tom Slentz, “in memory of Anita Nickols, my loving companion of many years.”
Neil and Roberta Green, of Mead, gave $50 “in honor of our grandson, Kyle Sherman, who is a full-time volunteer in Great Britain with the Community Service Volunteers.” Kevin and Kathy Sims, of Newman Lake, donated $50. Phil Schumaker also donated $50.
These donors gave $48.25 via PayPal: Diana Manville; Joan Locke; and Tom and Carol Neupart, of Spokane.
Wendy Holmes, of Spokane, gave $40.
Michael and Dorothy McMurtery, of Spokane, gave $35, as did Judith Schoepflin, of Spokane.
Spokane residents who gave $25: Marie Holliday; Margaret Swanson; and an anonymous donor, in memory of the Johnson family.
Spokane Valley residents who gave $25: Jacquie and Leroy Hoffer; and Jill Beth. Jean Supinger, of Medical Lake, gave $25, as did Curt and Mary Jo Lorenz, of Chattaroy.
An anonymous Spokane donor sent $21 and wrote: “I already sent in $100 but thought I’d add a little bit more.”
Express Employment Professionals, of Spokane, gave $20.11.
Giving $20: Father George Morris, of Gonzaga University; Jim and Pauline Furman, of Harrington, Wash.; an anonymous donor, in memory of John Devlin; and an anonymous donor from Spokane.
An anonymous donor sent $13 and a note: “I was helped during this time long ago in Mount Vernon – so I hope this helps the fund.”