Bundled up against the cold, teens from Gonzaga Prep and Freeman High School unloaded truck after truck of toys alongside numerous adult volunteers. They made an efficient assembly line, sorting, categorizing and stacking boxes of games, sporting equipment, trucks, dolls, art easels and other gifts carefully chosen for each age and gender.
“You start with an empty warehouse, and by the end of the day it’s filled with things given by others. It’s incredible,” said Pai Longinotti, honor society adviser and teacher at Freeman High School.
Funded entirely by donations, the bureau provides less-fortunate families with one toy per child, one book per child through age 14, and food vouchers of $15 to $30, depending on household size. Last year it served 35,561 adults and children. A similar number are expected this year, with many of them standing in line for hours so their families can have a happier holiday.
“I pray the weather cooperates,” said co-chair Christy Folkins. “I feel so bad when people have to stand outside in bad weather. There are years people stood out in line for two hours and it’s 20 degrees and the wind is blowing and it’s snowing and they have a little one with them or they’re handicapped.”
Monday, the winter chill that blew through the doors with each incoming shipment couldn’t penetrate the spirit of warmth and community generated by volunteers who consistently say they want to give back and help others.
It’s a sentiment repeated by many of the more than 600 readers who have donated a total of $147,736 toward the $525,000 needed to fund the charity, including the following.
A couple who asked to be called “K and A,” of Spokane, donated $1,500.
Richard and Carol Hendershot, of Spokane, gave $1,000. “Thank you for providing this much needed service to the community. We are so blessed to have this resource available,” they wrote.
Colvico Inc., of Spokane, donated $1,000.
Dorian Studio, of Spokane, gave $1,000. “Dorian Studio is pleased to support all the great work of the Christmas Bureau. We are so grateful to live in a community with so much support for one another,” said a note signed The Mark Family (Joe, Yvonne, John, Jake and Holly).
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $1,000.
Jim and Melissa Tipke, of Spokane, gave $500, writing, “Thank you for all that you do for the Spokane community during this holiday season.”
Cyrus and Janet Vaughn, of Spokane, gave $500 in memory of Norma Maris.
Michael Flanney gave $500 in memory of his late parents Francis and Norah Flanny and Gordon Lynch. “Your organization does a fine and caring job at this time of hope and celebration,” he wrote.
Steve Smitherman gave $500 in memory of his wife, Lisa Marie Smitherman. “Lisa always gave to anyone needing a helping hand, including her students at Wilson Elementary. She especially enjoyed Christmas and being able to help put a smile on the faces of others,” he wrote.
Patricia Stainbrook gave $485.20.
Jim Rhoades and Rose Kelly gave $330. “For the past 14 years I’ve hosted the Rhoades Holiday Man Lunch at our home. This year I asked the guys to put some money in the pot for your fund. They came up with $165 and Rose and I matched that,” wrote Rhoades.
Wesley and Dorothy Newbill, of Otis Orchards, gave $300 “in honor of three of our grandsons. Tyrel, a teacher in Mexico, and Caleb and Scott in Afghanistan.”
Marcia and Harold Mielke, of Liberty Lake, gave $300. “Thanks for all you do in organizing the fund. It is our joy to be able to contribute,” they wrote.
Norrine and Fred Potts, of Spokane Valley, gave $300.
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Putz, of Spokane, gave $250 in memory of Jack, “to help put the joy of Christmas on a child’s face.”
Shirely and Burton Pendleton, of Spokane, gave $250.
Virginia Harger, of Spokane, gave $250, writing, “Many thanks for this gift and service you give to our city.”
Jan and Joseph Kaley, of Spokane, gave $200. “Thanks to all who help make the less fortunate have a nicer Christmas,” they wrote.
Other Spokane donors giving $200 were, Christine Gamble, Paul and Terry Glordanella and two anonymous donors.
Jeffrey and Theresa Utesch, of Veradale, gave $200, as did Charles and Cheryl Foxes, of Bonners Ferry.
Carl and Dennie Crowe, of Spokane, gave $150, writing, “Thank you for all the wonderful ways you use the S.R. Christmas Fund to help so many. We send our donation to honor our parents, Hugh and Marse Dressel and Mary and Carl Crowe.”
Judith Boyer, of Spokane, gave $150 “to honor my adult children and their spouses. Merrier Christmas for so many.”
Other Spokane donors giving $150 were Linda and Michael Andrade, and John and Catherine Caskey.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $125.
An anonymous Colbert donor gave $100, writing “Thanks for all you do for the folks in Spokane.”
Kathleen and John Roche, of Liberty Lake, and an anonymous Otis Orchards donor each gave $100.
Wade and Kathleen Griffith, of Spokane, gave $100 in memory of Norma Main, “one of the nicest people ever born.”
Other Spokane donors giving $100 were Phyllis Thayer, Gay and Jim Canning, J.H. and C.J. Strobeck, Joy and Wayne Attwood, R.A. Martens, an anonymous donor, and Thomas and Mary Bryan, who wrote, “a wonderful and needed project.”
Phyllis Eide, of Spokane, gave $100 to honor Jacqueline Eide and her enduring kindness to others and to her family.
Spokane Valley donors giving $100 were Richard and Kaye Dickerson, Sally and Walter Bonsack, Jack and Doris Primmer, an anonymous donor, and Jim and Kenna Morgan, who wrote “We are happy to donate to this worthy organization. We applaud the efforts of all the volunteers who work so hard to make sure everyone can have a merry Christmas.”
Jerry Dormairer Farms, of Hartline, gave $100.
Sula Potter gave $99.91.
William Stewart gave $75 in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Olson and his wife, Donna Stewart.
An anonymous Four Lakes donor gave $50, as did Joyce Callaway, of Medical Lake.
Two anonymous Spokane donors gave $50.
Spokane donors giving $50 included Jane Courtright, who wrote, “Thank you for helping others at Christmastime,” and Joan Orcutt, who wrote, “Many thanks for making Christmas special for so many.”
Other Spokane donors giving $50 were Alan and Deanna Eppinger, Calvin and Carol Russell, Judy Leifer, Judy Smith, an anonymous donor, Dudley Mizoguchi, who gave in memory of John Traynor, and Gerry Giles, who donated in memory of his wife, Arlene, something Giles wrote they “enjoyed doing every Christmas to help the needy.”
Jennifer Pedersen gave $48.25.
Gordon Landberg, of Spokane Valley, gave $40.
Spokane donors giving $25 were Julie and Robert Roberts, Jared Reisnover, and an anonymous donor.