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Among the top needs: an address

Christmas Bureau serves families without permanent homes

The Christmas Bureau asks most people receiving gifts to provide proof of their addresses along with photo IDs – but if they don’t have an address, that’s OK.

Whether they’re living on the street, in a shelter or in friends’ homes, homeless people can receive grocery vouchers and gifts for their children, said Judy Lee, bureau coordinator.

“Those are some of the people who are the most vulnerable and need the most help at this time,” she said. “We welcome them at the Christmas Bureau.”

In 2010, the bureau distributed vouchers to 183 homeless individuals and families.

Most were single adults, Lee said, but some were children. People without addresses should just explain their situation to bureau volunteers, Lee said.

The bureau may see more homeless families this year.

In statistics released last month, Spokane Public Schools and the East Valley, West Valley and Mead school districts showed one-year increases in the number of homeless students ranging from 32 percent to 55 percent. Coeur d’Alene school officials said their numbers were up, too, according to a previous newspaper report.

Some families with children are sleeping in their cars in parking lots, Jennifer Martin said this week. Martin is the homeless program coordinator at SNAP, a human-services agency that serves Spokane County.

But more people are bouncing around among friends’ and relatives’ homes, she said. Forced out of permanent housing by job loss or foreclosure, they’re not living on the streets, but they don’t have homes, either.

“Families are being forced into double-up situations, because there’s literally nowhere else for them to go,” Martin said.

The Christmas Bureau can also accommodate people who can’t make it to the bureau in person because of transportation, disability or other problems, Lee said.

It’s OK to send a caregiver, friend or relative to the bureau in your place if you can’t attend in person. But the representative must have in hand the same documents you’d show if you were there – your photo ID and proof of address for each adult and child in your home (see box for details).

Paid for with newspaper readers’ donations to the Christmas Fund, the bureau is organized by Catholic Charities Spokane, the Volunteers of America and The Spokesman-Review. It’s available to everyone – there’s no geographic residency requirement or income requirement.

New donations

Gifts to the Christmas Fund lift the total to $57,828.93.

The Jacqueline B. Stone Charitable Trust gave $4,000. “The late Mrs. Jacqueline B. Stone smiles from Heaven at the generosity of this fine community during this most special time of year,” wrote trustee Paul Kienbaum.

John and Janet Peterson, of Spokane, donated $600. The Petersons’ donation was misstated in an earlier tally.

Residents who gave $500: Hugh Johnston, of Spokane; and Dolores and Robert Griffith, of Veradale.

Karen Woodworth, of Spokane, gave $250.

James and Melissa Tipke, of Spokane, gave $200.

An anonymous donor from Spokane gave $150 and wrote: “Our sincere thanks to all who keep this grand work going from year to year.”

An anonymous retired newspaper employee from Spokane gave $135.

Spokane residents who gave $100: Vickie Borer; Lane Klees; Clifford Rankin; Thomas and Myrna Olson; Michael and Valerie Adams; and Mabel Morrison.

Spokane resident Virginia Robinette gave $50. Leonard and Debbie Rausch, of Spokane Valley, also gave $50.

An anonymous donor from Spokane gave $15.