Among the almost 400 volunteers who staff the Christmas Bureau, some are employees taking employer-approved time off to help. Cenex Zip Trip, for example, brought 26 employees to volunteer.
“As a company we try to volunteer our time and give back at the local level to ones that need it the most. That’s mostly children,” explained general manager Ian Johnston. “Everybody realizes we need to give back to the community in which we serve. Others before self.”
The Christmas Bureau distributes toys, books and food vouchers to needy families for the holidays. On Friday, it served 3,555 people, with toys provided for 1,813 children and food vouchers for 1,086 households.
The charity is funded by reader donations, with a goal of raising $525,000 by Christmas. About 96 percent of the money raised goes directly to the toys, books and vouchers, thanks to volunteers.
Other local businesses that send employee volunteers to the bureau include Avista, Molina Healthcare, Providence Health & Services and Amerigroup: a total of almost 75 volunteers.
For Denise Timothy, volunteering at the bureau for a workweek was possible thanks to her employer, Astellas Pharma, which gives employees five days off each year so they can perform community service of their choice. This year, Timothy chose to spend her week at the Christmas Bureau, entering recipient information into the computers.
“There are always people that need help,” she said. “This seemed like a good time to contribute to the effort.”
Hotstart, of Spokane, gave $10,000. “Every Hot Starter would be proud to help out those who need the extra help at Christmas,” said CEO Terry Judge.
“Hotstart is proud of the Spokane community and the lifestyle it supports. We believe in active participation in community affairs and encourage involvement by our people.” He added “it’s a great time of year to help bring some cheer to people who otherwise wouldn’t get much cheer.”
The Suburbanites, a small group of Spokane-area women who organize several fundraisers annually to give to area organizations, donated $1,200. “We appreciate the hard work you do for this community,” wrote Treasurer Anabel Bainter.
Virgil Duchow, of Spokane, gave $250.
Sharon and William Beck, of Otis Orchards, gave $200, as did Vincent and Heidi Cherel, of Spokane.
Michael Schmeltzer and Shani Marchant, of Spokane, gave $200 in memory of “our wonderful parents, Charles and Irvine Schmeltzer and Butch and Maureen Marchant.”
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $200 in memory of Kathleen Rotchford, “who taught us all virtue through generosity.”
The Caldwells, of Spokane, gave $200 in memory of Craig, Rick and Gramps.
Eileen and William Dittman, of Spokane, gave $150.
An anonymous Spokane donor sent $150 “In memory of William ‘Jay’ Kinzer who in his fifty years as a Spokane Central Lions member, and many years as a member of the Elks Club, devoted countless volunteer hours for the benefit of the children of Spokane.”
Robert and Maureen O’Brien, of Spokane Valley, gave $150 in honor of their two grandchildren, Faith and Abigail.
Delbert and Frances Mattix, of Veradale, gave $150. Delbert Mattix wrote about growing up in the rural mountains of Western Montana during the Depression: “I can still vividly remember the one gift under the tree for each kid. My gift was a wind-up toy truck,” he wrote, adding that the truck made it his happiest day during a difficult time. “I hope this small gift will bring much happiness to some children who need a boost in this difficult era.”
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $140 in memory of Dorothy Gordon.
John and Debbie Stierwalt, of Spokane, gave $125. “Thank you for the countless hours you devote so that others in our community can have a merrier Christmas,” they wrote.
Mrs. Wetterhus, of Colbert, gave $100 in memory of her son Bob.
Kristine Nestoss and Joseph Wormuth, of Greenacres, gave $100 in memory of their dads, Bill Nestoss and Will Wormuth.
Tom and Bette Brattebo, of Liberty Lake, gave $100, as did Dixie and James Moore, of Mead, Pete Sherve, of Northport, and an anonymous Pullman donor in memory of Sarah Moore.
Spokane donors giving $100 include Spokane Sea Hawkers, Dolores and Chuck Crabtree, Joe and Jeanie Hensley, Mary and Robert Morgan, Col. and Mrs. Robert Bublitz, John and Ro Lisk, Carl Otoski, Sharon and Bruce Anthony, Delores Taxter, Pat and Dee Cerutti, Pittman Chiropractic Clinic, two anonymous donors, and Joe and Carolyn Schauble, who gave in memory of their parents, Carl and Edna Magee and Robert and Mary Schauble.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $100 in memory of grandmothers Mildred Wellsandt and Evelyn Vassberg Lofton.
Another anonymous donor gave $100, writing, “As a couple who in the past years have worked at the Christmas Bureau, we have seen the generosity of the Spokane community reaching out to those in need. What a tribute to the spirit of Christmas.”
Bernis Irving, of Spokane Valley, gave $100 in memory of her daughter Aleisha Toliver and her husband Charlie Irving.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $75 in memory of Joe and Irene Lynch and Don Morley.
An anonymous donor, of Spokane by way of Royal Oak, Mich., gave $52 in memory of Mary Jo Banyai, “who taught so many the importance of giving and selflessness.”
Mark and Launa Lorenzen, of Greenacres, gave $50, as did Dr. and Mrs. Lowell Mouser, of Otis Orchards, and Albert Strohmaier, of Spokane, who gave in memory of his wife Patsy.
Other Spokane donors giving $50 were Marianne and Claude Hire, Laura Haile, an anonymous donor, and Margaret Pansie, who gave in memory of her husband Dick Pansie.
Kris Spelman, of Spokane, also gave $50, in memory of her grandmother, Violet Burgunder, and her great aunt, Elsie Altin.
Rose Marie Rogers, of Spokane Valley, gave $50 in memory of Dale Rogers, “who loved Christmas.”
Robert and Glenda Haugen and Margie Salo, of Medical Lake, gave $35 in memory of George Salo.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $30.
Spokane donors giving $25 include Patrick and Lucile Keogh, Betty McRae, Shannon and Tom Frasher, Peter and Annette Sanburn, and an anonymous donor.
LeRoy and Jacquie Hoffer, of Spokane Valley, gave $25. “This is a small contribution but we know it can be put to use. We live on a fixed income but we have our home, food on the table and our bills paid, so we count ourselves as blessed,” they wrote.
Curt and Mary Jo Lorenz, of Chattaroy, gave $20.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $10.
Citizens for Jobs Now, of Spokane, gave $5.25.