For the Christmas Bureau, donations are a lot like Christmas presents. They come in every size, from a few dollars to thousands, and are received with gratitude from a huge variety of community members: individuals, families, businesses and groups.
“We get to see firsthand the smiles on the faces and the ‘thank yous’ … We get to see what it really means to the recipients. I wish all the people that donate could see that too. They are really making a difference,” said Judy Lee, Christmas Bureau coordinator.
“I think it’s impressive that we do get such a wide range of donors,” Lee added. “I love that a lot of the people who donate include information about why they are donating.”
The South Hill Bunco Babes, for example, sent $478 to help fund the toys, books and food vouchers the bureau will distribute to low-income people this month.
For about 10 years the group of women has met monthly to eat dinner and play the dice game bunco, taking turns hosting the parties. They each bring $6 to pay for prizes and set aside any unused money for charity.
“It’s a good way to visit and a really relaxing evening … we’ve become really good friends,” said Julie Snow, the group’s treasurer, noting they always spend time catching up on each other’s lives, sometimes to the exclusion of the game.
“We’ve got to be good enough friends. Sometimes we don’t play Bunco and we just visit,” she said. “Then the whole amount goes into the charity fund.”
This year the South Hill Bunco Babes donated in memory of Bernie Hanson, who was part of their group until she died this October. They’ve sent money to the Christmas Bureau for about eight years, Snow said, because they think the charity “does a good job helping people.”
“We’re all comfortable and it makes our fellowship time more special because we know we’re going to donate,” she explained. “I really like that you give books to the kids and they can pick out a toy, and get a voucher to get food. Those are the things we all need at Christmastime – to provide for our families.”
PAML, of Spokane, gave $3,976. PAML employees paid $8 for permission to dress down for three days in November, raising $1,988. The PAML Donations Committee matched that contribution dollar for dollar.
Hal Dixon gave $2,500.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, gave $2,000 on behalf of Bubba.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, gave $1,000, writing, “We are grateful that we can share with others in our community. The true gifts in life are love in our families, joy in being together, and hope for the future. Thank you for helping to spread the Christmas spirit!”
Tom and Colleen Tracy donated $1,000 in memory of John P. Tracy Jr., who died this year. “We continue to be blessed in so many ways and want to share those blessings with those less fortunate. We hope this will help make their Christmas the joyous occasion it should be,” they wrote.
Gail and Roberta Keeling, of Otis Orchards, gave $550 in honor of their grandsons Taylor Merkley, 16, Kolby Keeling, 8, and Ryan Keeling, 7. “We are happy to contribute to the Christmas fund again this year. We have much to be grateful for,” they wrote.
Jeff and Kim Brown, of Mead, sent $500. “Kim and I are once again pleased to be able to contribute to your very worthwhile fund to help those in our community.”
Dennis McMann, of Newport, Wash., also gave $500.
Spokane donors giving $500 were Paul and Kathy Lin, Greg and Ann Hougham, the Mickelson family, and Hood and Associates Cosmetic and Family Dentistry.
The Jones family and Rick and Diana Wilhite, all of Spokane Valley, gave $500. “We have been blessed all these years to be able to give a little to help provide for those who are unable,” wrote the Wilhites. “Our parents told us that it is better to give than to receive. As in so many things, they were correct.”
The South Hill Bunco Babes, of Spokane, gave $478.
Sharon and Peter Fairchild, of Liberty Lake, gave $400, writing, “Hope this brings a bit of holiday cheer to a family in need this year.”
Beth Calkins-Baumstark, of Spokane, gave $300, as did Thomas and M. Camille Schmidt, of Valleyford.
Richard and Michele Zywiak, Peter and Beth Weller, Scott and Nancy Stowell, Kevin Gilmore, and an anonymous donor, all of Spokane, gave $250.
Tena Wheat gave $242.45 via PayPal.
Spokane donors giving $200 were Steve and Peggy Koehler, Jim and Julie Lehn, Len and Heidi Preston, Lynn Samuels, an anonymous donor in memory of Joanne Robinette, and Shirlee and Don Simonson in memory of their mother, who died this year at age 105.
Birgitta and Jay Landreth, of Tumtum, Wash., and Warren Poppe also gave $200.
Mike Howson gave $193.90 via PayPal.
John and Zoe Ann Foltz and Mary Ann McCurdy, all of Spokane, gave $150. Calvin Vance also gave $150.
Michael and Doreen Lewis, of Spokane Valley, gave $127, writing, “God bless all the volunteers and all others who give of their time for this worthy cause.”
An anonymous donor gave $110 “in memory of my parents.”
Carolyn and Garry Helton, of Elk, gave $100.
An anonymous Garfield, Wash., donor gave $100.
Albert and Jean Pistorius, of Hayden Lake, gave $100.
Leo Wood, of Mead, gave $100.
An anonymous Newport donor sent $100, writing, “In 1996, after ranching for 25 years, my husband and I lost almost everything. It was devastating. It was late fall and Christmas came and went with no celebration. Today we are back on our feet and I am a RN. My husband retired from GU and now works in his shop and helps the neighbors with all parts of projects. God is good.”
Janet and Charles Watkins, of Newport, gave $100.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $100 “in loving remembrance of Charles Schmeltzer.”
Darlene Waller, of Spokane, gave $100 in memory of Jack and Margaret Waller and Darroll R. Waller. “They all believed in what you do, as do I.”
David Bennett, of Spokane, sent $100 in memory of his mother, whose “family misses her every day but especially during the holidays.”
Other Spokane donors giving $100 were Patricia Earley, Katherine and Pat Harper, Frank Franciscovich, Mark and Marcy Majeski, Sue Gilmartin, Elaine Turner, Dolores Hein, Mabel Morrison, Lorraine Cannon, Mary and David Larsen, Anna Maria and Jose Cepeda, Luella Palmer, Annette La Combe, Dana and Mary Besecker, Doris Anderson, Grace and Scott Hege, Thomas and Linda Hempel, Ronald Yep and four anonymous donors. “I am so grateful for all the wonderful work the volunteers do,” wrote one anonymous donor. “Thanks a bunch and Merry Christmas!”
An anonymous donor gave $100 in memory of John McConnaughey, “the best Dad, dentist and friend.”
Spokane Valley donors giving $100 were Rojean and Delbert Flory, Nathan Foster, Marcia and Timothy Dorwin, Linda Spurlin, James Kearney, Cathy and David Williams and two anonymous donors.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $80.
Carol Phelps, of Spokane, gave $75.
Michael and Mildred Wolfe, of Cheney, gave $50.
Bob and Glenda Thompson, of Colbert, gave $50 “in memory of fellow Christmas Bureau volunteer Ernie Packebush.”
An anonymous Mead donor gave $50.
Spokane donors giving $50 were Keith, Debbie, Ben and Tanner Comes; George and Barbara Stevens; Patricia and Thomas Ricketts; Sonja and David Petty; Leslie and Lois Albert; Dick and Ann Collins; Kate and Jim Jones; Gary and Linda Williamson; and three anonymous donors.
Spokane Valley donors giving $50 were John Remund, in memory of Jean Remund, and Betty Johnson.
Charles McCoy, of Veradale, gave $50.
Julie Beckstead donated $48.25 via PayPal on behalf of Merrill & Nanette Beckstead.
Evelyn Graves, of Medical Lake, gave $40, in memory of W.H. Graves.
Mr. and Mrs. Irving Kiehn, of Spokane, gave $40.
An anonymous Spokane Valley donor gave $40, as did another anonymous donor.
Thelma Ostby, of Chattaroy, gave $38 in memory of her husband Julius Ostby, brother John Handeguard, and sisters Gladys Gossitt and Ida Ostby.
An anonymous donor gave $30.
An anonymous Liberty Lake donor gave $25, as did an anonymous Spokane donor.
Spokane donors giving $25 were Cheryl Scheideman, William and Judith Anderson, Rita Giebel, and Michael and Virginia Manion.
Marcia and Stephen Downing, of Spokane Valley, gave $25.
John and Patricia Bush, of Spokane, gave $20.
T.C., of Spokane, gave $20 in memory of Elizabeth. Rolf and Vivienne Walling, of Spokane, also gave $20, as did Mike and Liz McGarr, writing, “Because we can.”
LoraLee and Wm. Silverthorne, of Spokane, gave $10.