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Bureau wraps up season, but fundraising continues

Davin McNew, 9, smiles as he holds Lucy, the Shih Tzu of volunteer Christy Folkins, right, while waiting in line at the Christmas Bureau on Monday. McNew and his grandmother were waiting in a line that was reserved for those with disabilities.  (Jesse Tinsley)
Davin McNew, 9, smiles as he holds Lucy, the Shih Tzu of volunteer Christy Folkins, right, while waiting in line at the Christmas Bureau on Monday. McNew and his grandmother were waiting in a line that was reserved for those with disabilities. (Jesse Tinsley)

People served by the Christmas Bureau: More than 35,000.

Money still to raise after today’s fundraising tally: More than $150,000.

The Christmas Bureau – an ambitious effort to distribute grocery vouchers and gifts to Spokane-area people in need – closed Monday after a busy final day.

“It’s thanks to our fabulous volunteers and a community that’s so supportive,” said Judy Lee, bureau coordinator.

That number served – 35,336, to be exact, about 500 fewer than were served during last year’s record-setting event – includes 17,279 children, meaning that many kids will receive toys and books on Christmas thanks to Christmas Fund donors.

And the bureau’s closure means some rest, at last, for the bureau’s hundreds of volunteers.

“I’m gonna go home, I’m gonna get in my recliner, I’m gonna get a glass of wine, and I’m gonna go to sleep,” said volunteer Rick Haynes, clipboard in hand, as he took stock of the few remaining toys before they were trucked off to a storage facility to be given away next year.

“We’re gonna come back next year and do it again – that’s what’s crazy.”

Meanwhile, today’s Christmas Fund tally falls more than $150,000 short of the $500,000 goal – the amount bureau coordinators need to cover the bills for the grocery vouchers, toys and books distributed to recipients during the 10-day event. The Christmas Bureau is paid for by donations by readers of The Spokesman-Review, which collaborates with Catholic Charities Spokane and the Volunteers of America to organize the event.

The Christmas Fund gratefully accepts donations of all sizes. Gifts should arrive by next Tuesday to be counted in this year’s tally. PayPal donations should be made by Sunday.

In a last-day snag Monday, the bureau ran out of toys for older teens. Volunteers hustled to a store to replenish supplies, but those didn’t last long. The bureau started distributing $10 vouchers – in addition to their families’ grocery vouchers – to parents of older teens that can be used to buy toys.

Bureau toy buyers base their purchases on the number of kids served within each age group the previous year. Monday’s shortage was mostly the result of parents using their infants’ one-toy allotment to choose an extra toy for their older child instead, said Reesie Smith, one of the bureau’s volunteer toy buyers.

Lesson learned, Smith said: Next year, they’ll pad the numbers for older kids.

In total, 1,112 toys were distributed Monday. Even after the doors were closed and volunteers dismantled the computer network, a few straggler recipients found their way to the toy room Monday afternoon. They still received help choosing gifts for their children to open on Christmas.

New donations totaling $26,034 gave the Christmas Fund a boost to $343,639.44.

The Few family of Spokane donated $5,000. “We pray that God’s peace and love spread over all involved with this wonderful fund,” the family wrote. “We give knowing God can use our money in ways above and beyond the moment and touch all lives throughout the year.” An anonymous couple from Spokane also sent $5,000 and a quote they said described the Christmas Bureau volunteers: “ ‘Joy comes not to him who seeks it for himself, but to him who seeks it for other people.’ – H.W. Sylvester.”

The employees and owners of Pacific Steel & Recycling, of Spokane, donated $3,000. “We applaud the wonderful effort the Christmas Bureau contributes to the Spokane community at this time of year. Hopefully this donation will give a few less fortunate a Merry Christmas,” wrote Doug Stewart and staff. “Thank you and keep up the good work.”

An anonymous donor from Spokane gave $2,000 in memory of her husband, “who always wanted to do his part to make sure that children in the Spokane area had a gift waiting for them on Christmas morning. The need this year seems greater than ever – I am thankful that I am able to dig a bit deeper this year to help the S-R Christmas Fund.”

An anonymous couple gave $1,500 and wrote: “We are proud to call Spokane our home.”

Manito Family Dentistry, of Spokane, donated $1,000.

Georgene Patten, of Spokane, gave $550 in memory of her husband, Les Patten, “who annually made out his charitable list just as children write to Santa, and the Christmas Fund was always at the top of that list.”

Giving $500: an anonymous donor from Spokane; Ed and Virginia English; the staff of Bernardo Wills Architects, of Spokane, who collected the money at their office Christmas party; and Mark and Valerie Sonderen, of Spokane, who sent a note thanking the volunteers and organizations “who provide the helping hands.”

Robert and Marian Cummings, of Spokane, gave $400 “with thanks for all we have … and in memory of all those who are gone from our lives.”

Don and Cathy Tucker, of Spokane, sent $350. They wrote: “As the very surprised winners of The Spokesman-Review-sponsored Christmas Tree of Elegance at the Davenport, we wanted to return a portion of the prize as a thank you for your sponsorship and to the community. Also a thank you to Jeanette and Pati for their effort and kind help.”

An anonymous couple from Spokane gave $300 and wrote: “Thank you for all you do for those in need with no one else to help them.” An anonymous donor from Spokane also gave $300, as did the Laborers International Union of North America Local 238, of Spokane.

Giving $250: Daniel and Theresa Lennon, of Spokane; Donald and Delphine Ladd, of Spokane, “in thanksgiving for the many blessings in our lives”; and an anonymous donor from Post Falls, “in loving memory of Al and Lillian Rudolf, who taught me the joy of giving.”

Spokane Valley residents who gave $200: Dolores and Merle Gilmore; and Beverly Honeycutt, in memory of her husband, Bill Honeycutt. Spokane residents who gave $200: Robert and Marlene Corbett; and Lloyd and Harriet Jacobson. Gini and Tom Burns gave $200 and wrote: “Thank you for your great community effort each and every Christmas!”

A local lodge of the Order of Sons of Italy in America also donated $200. “The officers and members of The American-Italian Club Lodge No. 2172 in Spokane are thankful for our heritage and the opportunities we have had living and working in this community,” President John Gerimonte wrote.

Giving $150: Bill and Dorene Reynolds, of Spokane, in memory of Ed and Dorothy Humes and Iris Westwood; Mary Kay and E. Dawes Eddy, of Spokane; and Dale West, of Deer Park.

Spokane residents who gave $100: Brent Hoogner and Gay Waldman-Hoogner; Mari Lynn Sonner; an anonymous donor; Ann and Don Foss, “in memory of our recently departed friends: Gayle Burrows and Ace Edmunds”; Robert and Flora Smick; Richard and Karen Steele; and Joe and Carolyn Schauble, in memory of their parents, Carl and Edna Magee and Robert and Mary Schauble. Empire Lumber Co., of Spokane, gave $100, continuing its 17-year tradition of forgoing its Christmas lunch “in order to help our neighbors.”

Also giving $100: Jon and Pam Ness, of Coeur d’Alene; Renewed Interiors, of Spokane Valley; and the Park Lane Motel, of Spokane Valley.

Tamara Holdren, of Spokane, gave $90 “in honor my six healthy, happy grandchildren. I hope it teaches them in some small way to share the joy of this blessed season!”

An anonymous donor gave $75.

Spokane residents who gave $50: an anonymous couple, who wrote: “Thanks for all you do for the needy”; Ben Schudel Jr., “in memory of my wonderful wife, Ruthann Schudel”; Phillip and Maralee Barto; an anonymous donor; Jesse Lill; Ken and Mickey Hill, “in memory of Lennis Hill, Bill Powers and Amanda Bunch”; and Barbara Kuntz.

Also giving $50: Jim and Kathryn Rudolph, of Liberty Lake; Dawn and Dave Voelker, of Veradale; and an anonymous donor, “to honor the 50th anniversary of special friends – Blaine ‘Shorty’ and Marcella Bennett – who request ‘no gifts, please.’ Their life has always been about ‘joyful giving’ to others.”

Jan Knapp, of Oldtown, Idaho, gave $34 in memory of her daughter, Dawn Hunt, who would have turned 34 last May. “God bless all the volunteers and the recipients,” Hunt wrote.

An anonymous donor gave $30 “in memory of my parents, John and Emma Peereboom.”

Spokane residents who gave $25: an anonymous couple; and Virginia and Michael Manion.

Virginia Grove, of Hayden, gave $25. Margot Wilson, of Spokane Valley, also gave $25. “I only wish it could be more,” she wrote. “Thank you for doing this each year.”

John Donohue, of Spokane, gave $5.

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