Paralegal student Tamra Moore, 42, gets herself and her 4-year-old daughter up at 4 a.m. so she can get to class at 7 a.m.
On Saturday morning, they joined the line at the Christmas Bureau. Moore said it was her first time at the charity.
“It’s just been a struggle, and I don’t have a lot of money to spend on Christmas this year,” she said.
The bureau doesn’t track how many recipients are first-timers. But organizers said they were preparing to meet a greater need this year at the charity, which distributes toys, children’s books and grocery vouchers to anyone who needs them.
High unemployment and cuts in social service programs are hitting families hard, they said. Recipients started calling with questions about the bureau weeks before it opened, reporting that they’d been recently laid off.
“There’s a new group. It’s called the newly poor,” said Rob McCann, executive director of Catholic Charities Spokane. “It’s a result of the economy.”
The bureau had a record-setting opening day Friday, serving nearly 7,000 people. On Saturday it served 4,072 people, including 2,205 children.
Moore, a single mother and student at Spokane Community College, has already overcome more than joblessness. She’s a 2009 graduate of Spokane County’s DUI Court, which gave her support as she worked to change her life. The program is for repeat DUI offenders who want to quit drinking.
It was DUI Court that gave Moore a love of the legal system, she said, and inspired her decision to become a paralegal.
“I’m not working,” the Spokane resident said. “I will be.”
While some recipients are new, most have been through the bureau’s doors before.
JJ Jones, 60, of Spokane, used to be a truck driver. Now he’s doing odd jobs for money, he said. He first sought help at the bureau last year, he said, and returned this year for a grocery voucher. A single person can get a voucher for $18.
“I’m out of a job,” Jones said. “Cold, broke, the whole nine yards.”
The Christmas Bureau is organized by the Volunteers of America, Catholic Charities and The Spokesman-Review. It’s paid for by newspaper readers’ donations to the Christmas Fund.
The Christmas Fund now stands at $152,985.01.
SCAFCO Corp., of Spokane, gave $10,000. “SCAFCO and its employees are pleased to assist others in the Spokane community during this holiday season,” read an accompanying letter.
The Law Offices of Douglas, Eden, Phillips, DeRuyter & Stanyer, of Spokane, gave $5,000. An accompanying letter read: “We are honored to be able to contribute to the Christmas Fund again this year, and to help put a warm Christmas meal on the tables and presents under the trees of families in the Spokane community who are in need this season.”
An anonymous donor from Spokane Valley gave $500 in honor of Keenan Loughery. Nanci Harder, of Spokane, also gave $500. And Louis Franks, of Spokane, gave $500 “on behalf of my deceased beloved wife, Vita M. Franks, and for our deceased dear friends, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur C. Burnside.”
Laborers’ International, Local No. 238, of Spokane, gave $300.
The Jim and Sue Burford family, of Spokane, gave $250, as did Steve and Judy Mongelluzzo, of Spokane.
An anonymous donor from Spokane Valley gave $200, as did Jean Rose, of Nine Mile Falls. The following Spokane residents also gave $200: Michael Howson; Linda Barnes; and Beverly Massie.
Sarah Wasicek, of Spokane, gave $150 in memory of Frank Wasicek Jr. “To honor you with this donation brings back the memory of the years we did this together,” she wrote. Joy Bryce, of Post Falls, also gave $150.
Spokane residents who gave $100: Elinor Iverson; Barbara Crawford and Tom Highland; Gail Harper; an anonymous donor; and Judy Boyer, in honor of her adult children and their spouses.
Barbara and Robert Kuntz, of Spokane, gave $75.
The Women of Zion Lutheran Church in Fairfield gave $50, as did Gordon and Terri Radford, of Hayden. Spokane residents who gave $50: Steven and Susan Anderson; an anonymous donor; and Ron Doyen.
Erin Mcgrail, of Spokane, gave $40.
Laura Nestoss, of Greenacres, gave $35 “in memory of my husband, Bill Nestoss, who felt everyone, be they big or little, should have something special at Christmas!”
V.W. and Inge Deil, of Spokane, gave $30.
Jerry Hubbard, of Spokane Valley, gave $25. Justine Haile, of Spokane, also gave $25.
Barbara and Larry Anderson, of Spokane, gave $20.
An anonymous $10 donation came with the note: “Thanks for what you do.”