Volunteer Jay Walter has sent people away from the Christmas Bureau because they lack proper ID. And it doesn’t feel good, he said.
The bureau distributes Christmas presents to people in need. Its goal is to provide a welcoming environment and positive experience for recipients. But recipients should come prepared with specific documents verifying their identity and address.
“You hate to say to someone who’s been in line for two, two and a half hours: ‘Sorry, you don’t have the proper documentation. Can you come back later?’ ” said Walter, of Spokane, a supervisor of the bureau’s ID-checking department.
A crew of 15 to 20 volunteers a day will handle the ID checks. And volunteer greeters will start asking recipients whether they’ve brought documentation as they come in the door, he said. That way, people who are missing the documents have a chance to gather them before spending more time in line.
“No. 1, our job as ID people is to help people be qualified,” Walter said. “And No. 2, I think it’s the recipients’ job to help us qualify them.”
Sending people away is a last resort, bureau coordinator Judy Lee said. But to be fair to the charity and to other recipients, it’s occasionally necessary when people come unprepared.
The ID requirements provides accountability for the bureau and help ensure that it can serve as many people as possible by limiting each household to one grocery voucher and each child to one toy and one book.
“The way to get through the bureau smoothly and with the least amount of wait time is to have the proper identification,” Lee said.
To receive grocery vouchers, adults must provide both a photo ID and a proof of address for each person living in the home. That proof of address can be the resident’s most recent utility bill, phone bill or rent receipt, which must list the resident’s name and current physical address. P.O. boxes are not acceptable as addresses.
There’s no residency or income requirement to receive gifts at the bureau.
For children, adults should bring a document from a school, day care center, a Department of Social and Health Services office or another social services agency verifying each child’s name, address and date of birth. WIC folders are also accepted as ID for children.
Social Security cards are not accepted as proof of identification for adults or children.
The Christmas Bureau is organized by the Volunteers of America, Catholic Charities of Spokane and The Spokesman-Review. Donations to the newspaper’s Christmas Fund pay for the bureau.
Walter said he’s grateful to be on the volunteer side of the table. But he’s glad the bureau is there for people who are less fortunate.
“The Christmas Bureau is a real gift to Spokane,” he said. “I think the fact that Spokane does it is so cool.”
New donations bump the Christmas Fund up to $33,728.93.
PAML matched donations by its employees to make a combined gift of $3,687.50.
George Sullivan gave $509.47 via PayPal.
Bill and Mabel McInerney, of Priest Lake, donated $500. Vincent and Joyce Rogers, of Spokane, also gave $500.
Lyle and Shirley Moore, of Spokane, gave $250.
Charles Lobdell, of Spokane, gave $200 “in memory of Marie W. Lobdell, a retired schoolteacher who loved children.” Kathy and Russell Mager, of Deer Park, also gave $200.
John and Zoe Ann Foltz, of Spokane, donated $150.
Judy Madden, of Spokane, sent $100 and a note: “Thanks for all you do, Christmas Bureau!”
Other Spokane residents who gave $100: an anonymous donor; W.M. and Donna Harsell; and Ralph and Joyce Prouty. Also giving $100: Paul and Charlotte Hudson, of Clayton, Wash.; Joseph Toombs Jr., of Spokane Valley, who donated in memory of Lois Toombs; and Court Madonna of the Valley donated $100.
Rene and Roy Penna, of Cheney, sent $50. Wrote Rene: “I would like to be one of the first to start off the Christmas Fund with a check in remembrance of my mother, Helen Lindell.”
Others who gave $50: Alene Pokstefl, of Spokane Valley; John, Jody and Jack Beck, of Spokane Valley; Joan Casey, of Colbert; Ken and Jane Trease, of Spokane; and Willbann and Virginia Terpening, of Spokane.
Jill Beth, of Veradale, sent $35 and a note: “Merry Christmas to you, the volunteers, for doing what you do — and all of the families you serve in their time of needing help. Thank you.”
Eddie Heavner, of Spokane, gave $30.
Charlotte Ulibarri gave $25 in memory of Kenneth L. Ulibarri and Kenneth L. Ulibarri Jr.
Victor and Evelyn Buksbazen, of Spokane, gave $25 in memory of the Rev. and Mrs. Victor Buksbazen Sr. Tracy Howe, of Spokane, also gave $25. “I hope this makes someone’s Christmas a little brighter,” she wrote. Also donating $25: John Wennes, of Spokane; and Paul Swinehart, of Tacoma.
Dan Mulrine, of Spokane, gave $20 “in loving memory of my parents, Dan R. and Catherine V. Mulrine.”
Darden and David Forsberg, of Spokane, gave $10.