It’s the halfway point between Thanksgiving and Christmas, with donations for the Christmas Bureau edging past 25 percent of the $525,000 needed to pay for the toys, books and food vouchers that will be given to less-fortunate families this week and next week at the fairgrounds.
The charity, which is funded by reader donations, boasts a low overhead expense of about 4 percent, largely because almost 400 volunteers do everything from buying books and stocking the toy room to help the roughly 35,000 low-income recipients who come to the bureau hoping for a happier holiday.
For Theresa Lamp, volunteering is a 20-year tradition. “It’s not Christmas in our house without the bureau,” she said. “It takes a village …. It’s our responsibility to give back to our community. We all have more than we need, so to help them out who don’t, it’s a core value.”
Three years ago, when her husband, Steve, retired from teaching middle school, he joined the tradition.
“She had all these stories about the bureau,” he said.
“He was jealous of all the fun,” she added.
Wearing an elf hat she made for her son when he was about 9, Theresa Lamp has volunteered in almost every area of the bureau over the years. This season she’s a floater, helping wherever needed, while Steve Lamp will bag the gifts parents select for their children.
“You get to see all the cool toys,” he said with a smile. “I love all the toys.”
And he knows the children who open those toys on Christmas morning will love them too.
The recipients, he said, often get teary “because they’re so grateful. We have no concept how bad off they are. They’re unbelievably grateful.”
“It’s very humbling,” Theresa Lamp said. “Look at people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from or how to pay the power bill. … The process is so long and they’re waiting in line. …They’re doing it for their kids.”
Walker’s Furniture donated $1,000, “In appreciation of our past and present loyal customers, we are contributing to your Christmas fund in hopes of alleviating some of the hardship observed throughout our community,” Mark Walker wrote. “We are all blessed to live in a community that so readily helps those in need. This holiday season, let’s unite and spread hopefulness and joy by sharing, in one way or another, with those families who are less fortunate. I believe true fulfillment in life only comes as you help others.”
Laborers Local No. 238, of Spokane, gave $300.
John and Janet Gray, of Spokane Valley, gave $300.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $250.
Joann Dunlap, of Spokane, gave $200 in memory of Grampa Joe.
Steven Swartley, of Spokane, gave $200.
Beverly Honeycutt, of Spokane Valley, gave $200 “in memory of my husband Bill Honeycutt, who loved Christmas.”
Richard and Lucille Hallett donated $165.
Brian and Judie Mitchell, of Spokane, gave $150.
The Spokane Sons of Norway donated $150, writing, “It is with pleasure that we send the enclosed contribution … to help those in need have a Merry Christmas. Keep up the good work Spokane.”
Jim and Marlene McBride, of Nine Mile Falls, gave $100, writing, “Thanks for helping those in need.”
Lynn and Bruce Wagner, and Tom and Mary Lacy, of Spokane, gave $100, as did Donald and Marilyn Lippman.
George and Barbara Stumph, of Spokane, gave $100 in memory of “those loved and lost.”
Michael Brown gave $74.93.
An anonymous Colbert donor gave $50.
Charles and Sharon Preston, of Nine Mile Falls, gave $50.
W.L. and Pauline Moeckel, of Spokane, gave $50.
Jim and Joan Burris, of Spokane, gave $40.
Shannon Bintz gave $38.54.
Sherryl Niska, of Spokane, gave $25 “in memory of my husband Steve.”
Fr. George Morris, S.J., of Spokane, gave $20.
Virgil Joe gave $5.