There’s nothing like the delight and surprise on a child’s face when opening a gift on Christmas morning. That’s why the Christmas Bureau offers a place to drop children while the parents go through the toy room.
Funded by reader donations, the bureau provides toys, books and food vouchers so families in need can have a merrier Christmas. On Tuesday, the bureau served 3,398 people, with $25,905 in food vouchers provided for 1,101 households and gifts distributed for 1,597 children.
To help parents who come to the bureau maintain that Christmas-morning surprise, some of the almost 400 volunteers provide child care. Among them are about 50 Rogers High School students who help during the bureau’s nine-day run at the fairgrounds. They carry gifts to cars, restock toys and play with the children.
“These are things a lot of our volunteer population can’t do. They provide the young energy,” said volunteer coordinator Brigid Krause, adding that she’s been impressed with the students’ work ethic and enthusiasm. “They walk in here excited. They come out and they want to work.”
Teacher and ASB adviser Karrie Docterman said Rogers students have volunteered at the bureau for about 10 years because it’s such a rewarding experience.
“Rogers is one of the lower-income schools in Spokane. A lot of our students might be the recipient of this charity they are giving back to,” she said. “By letting them have the opportunity to impact someone else and see how important it is, it helps them grow.”
Elizabeth and Kamdra Wilder, for example, said they received presents from the bureau when they were younger.
“It brought me a lot of happiness, and it feels good to give it to someone else,” Elizabeth Wilder said.
“When I was little, I stood in line for hours,” recalled Keri Aalund, adding that she remembers getting a doll for Christmas that year. “It was my favorite toy.”
Compared to other volunteer opportunities for teens, Docterman said, the Christmas Bureau provides immediate reward to the students because they see the families they’re helping face to face.
“They immediately get that gratification that their time, their willingness to listen and to help, made someone’s day and improved something,” she said.
Tuesday, after putting an identifying wristband on a child and getting him settled with a toy, Samantha Webb said she enjoys playing with the kids. She also expected to see her 2-year old brother in the child care area.
“I think my mom is coming for my brothers. It’s a good feeling because they will get something,” she said. Then she gestured to the children playing. “And you know all the other kids should get something.”
The Metaphysical Research Society in Spokane donated $2,000. “This year our club voted to donate our money to the Spokesman-Review Christmas Bureau. We have been donating for Christmas for needy families for over 25 years and know that you do such a good job in getting help to the families,” they wrote.
An anonymous Spokane Valley donor gave $1,000 in memory of Mom, Dad, Peggy, Rick and Craig. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” they wrote.
Kilgore Construction Inc., of Colbert, gave $500, as did T.W. Clark Construction LLC, of Spokane, and an anonymous donor, who wrote, “with the hope that it will help brighten the holiday season and provide some joy in the lives of those in need during this special time of year.”
Edward Van Vliet, of Spokane, gave $500, as did Kevin West at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, who gave in lieu of client gifts. “Please accept this donation to help those in our community during the holiday season. Thank you to the many workers and donors to this worthy cause in our community,” Senior Vice President Kevin West wrote.
Ted and Winnie Allen, of Spokane, gave $400, as did the management of Inland Northwest Blood Center and an anonymous Spokane donor, who gave in memory of Joe, Judi, Bette and Bob, writing, “The Christmas Bureau is a wonderful gift to the Spokane community.”
Spokane donors giving $300 were Janet and Keith Walker, Nancy Edwards, Stop N Shop, and the Trust Fund of Harriet Allen.
St. Joseph Catholic Church, of Metaline Falls, gave $250. “Thank you for assisting all of those in need, especially the children!” they wrote.
Spokane donors giving $250 were Allan Morrison, Gary and Susan Bloom, Daniel and Theresa Lennon, and the Rhea Dow Charitable Fund at Schwab Charitable Fund.
Tom and Cheri Susens gave $242.45, as did Barbara Lien, in memory of Eris, Lucille and Rufus.
Virginia Schneidmiller, of St. John, gave $200.
Empire Lumber Co., of Spokane, gave $200: “As the Holidays close in on us, it is time to think of those less fortunate and to reach out to help them. Those of us in the Forest Products Industry understand the difficult times.” Spokane donors giving $200 were Anne and Jess Walter, Tudy and Larry Hatch, Carl and Anna Rabe, Don and Janet Hart, Joan Peden, Arnold and Colleen Cohen, and two anonymous donors.
Two anonymous Spokane Valley donors gave $200. One wrote, “Please use this to provide for what is needed. Thanks so much for all you do for the community.”
Susan Burford gave $193.90.
Paul Grubb, of Spokane, gave $180.
Cheryl and Bryce Backus, of Spokane, gave $150, writing, “As we see the excitement in our grandson’s eyes as Santa’s arrival gets closer, we can’t imagine any child not having a gift under the tree from Santa. May our gift help in some small way to brighten the eyes of God’s little ones.”
Mengoats Hauling and Recycling gave $150. “As owners of Mengoats Hauling and Recycling, we often witness what hard times can do to children and their families. As we continue to expand our business, it is our 100% commitment to increase our donation amount every year to such a great Christmas fund,” wrote Chris Ennis and Adam and Diana Carpenter.
Bob and Lenore Romney, of Spokane, gave $125.
Sue DeFoe, of Spokane, gave $120 in memory of her husband, Dave DeFoe, “who contributed every year.”
Donald Frogner, of Chattaroy, gave $110, as did Douglas and Bethany Mary Jayne, of Spokane.
An anonymous Airway Heights donor gave $100, as did an anonymous Loon Lake donor.
Gerald and Dawn Goertz, of Medical Lake, gave $100 in memory of their parents and grandparents Jim Soderman, and Herb and Florence Goertz. “Once again it is our pleasure to donate to this worthy cause,” they wrote.
Total Security, of Nine Mile Falls, gave $100. “Your efforts to support our local community during the holiday season are commendable,” they wrote.
Dennis and Bernice Nelson, of Nine Mile Falls, gave $100 in memory of Dick Tinsley and Walt and Meriam Nelson.
Mrs. Maurice Twomey, of Prospect Heights, Ill., gave $100, writing, “Thanks for wonderful memories.”
Judy Struss, of Spokane, gave $100 in memory of Patricia Blackwell.
Rhonda Krauss, of Spokane, gave $100. “I started donating to the fund because I’ve never had to stand in line outside for 4 hours in 15-degree weather to get a $20 food voucher. I am blessed,” she wrote.
Karen Harrington, of Spokane, gave $100 in memory of her parents. “I volunteer at the Christmas Bureau. It is so much fun,” she wrote.
Stephen and Debra Piper, of Spokane, gave $100. “Tell my cousin Christy Folkins, ‘good job.’ She is one in a million,” they wrote.
Annie Foss, of Spokane, gave $100 in memory of her “BFF Gayle Burrows and dear friends Ace and Yvonne Edmunds … Thank you for the good work and wonderful job you do.”
Betty Frost, of Spokane, gave $100 “in memory of my husband, Jack E. Frost Sr., and his three children, Jack Jr., Nancy and Patti” and in memory of her brother Ray “Pooch” Russell on behalf of his three children.
Other Spokane donors giving $100 include Frank and Jeanie Neer, Pam and Randy, Jack and Norma Snead, Les Hunt, Ben and Eileen Fawcett, Robert Munk, Earl and Lydia Noland, Kelly Watson and Stephanie Klein, who wrote, “Thanks for all you do during this season. May this bring a little joy to those less fortunate.”
Lois Hathaway, of Spokane Valley, gave $100 in memory of Rod Hathaway, who died this summer. “Thank you for all the good work you do,” she wrote.
Earl and Marilyn Elias, of Tigard, Ore., gave $100.
Barbara Doyle, of Liberty Lake, gave $96.80, as did Lorraine Klobucher, of Chattaroy, and Keith and Caroline LaMotte, of Spokane.
An anonymous Spokane Valley donor gave $93, writing, “to all you dear people – a merry Christmas. I am proud of you and Spokane. I am giving a dollar for each year of my life (93) and am looking ahead for the big 100.”
Marilyn Mayfield gave $75 in memory of her husband, Troy Mayfield, and her son Pat Geng. “Thank you for helping so many people,” she wrote.
Other Spokane donors giving $75 included Harvey Lockhead, Mike Keegan, Thomas and Elaine Pitler, and two anonymous donors.
H.O. Wilson, of Greenacres, gave $50, as did Larry and Laura Isaak, of Loon Lake.
Patrick and Laurie Ferrell, of Mead, gave $50, writing, “We pray that this gift will allow someone to have a better Christmas.”
Inland Northwest Corvair Club, of Spokane, gave $50. “Once again the Inland Northwest Corvair Club takes pleasure in sending along a little something to help the great work done by the Christmas Bureau,” they wrote.
Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers gave $50. “The many writers of Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers would like to commend the Spokesman-Review and your partners for the great work you do each year during the Christmas Season. It is great to see such effort being put forth to make the Holidays brighter for those who otherwise would not be able to enjoy them,” President David McChesney wrote.
Leland and Julie Fish, of Spokane, gave $50 in memory of their parents. “Thank you for all your hard work,” they wrote.
Other Spokane donors giving $50 were Gerri Wendlandt, Donald Gale Jr., Jacqueline Whipps, James and Sharon Watson, two anonymous donors, and the Gilliam family, who wrote, “To all the staff and volunteers of the Christmas Bureau, thanks for spreading good cheer and providing hope to families in our region.”
Spokane Valley donors giving $50 were Carol Lippman, Trish and Dennis Baslington, Roger and Pat French, an anonymous donor, and Allen Lacombe, who wrote, “a better holiday season to those less fortunate.”
Andrew Collins, of Vernon, Conn., gave $50, writing, “A Merry Christmas to my hometown and everyone at the Christmas Bureau!”
Jeff Clausen and Lisa Harder gave $50 in honor of Lisa’s late father Bill McKenzie, who died in July.
Theresa Schimmels, of Spokane Valley, gave $48.25, as did Michael Mason, of Lynnwood, Wash.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $28.83.
Marian Lavelle, of Deer Park, gave $25, as did Hennige, of Rathdrum, and Arnelle O’Conner, who wrote, “I have been helped by your charity for many years. The food voucher helped so much in my budget. It let me buy pet food for my bulldog Pixa and tomcat Granit. This $25 is from Pixa and Granit O’Connor. Thank you.”
Dave, Eva and Jessica McChesney, of Spokane, gave $25. “We hope it will help a little to make Christmas and the Holiday Season brighter for even one individual,” they wrote.
Other Spokane donors giving $25 were Robert Roose, an anonymous donor, and Jacquelyn Daniell, who gave in memory of Monica Abbott.
Spokane Valley donors giving $25 were William and Doris Anderson and an anonymous donor.
Eva May Hendrickson, of Garfield, gave $20. “Thanks for helping less fortunate folks,” she wrote.
Howard and Barbara Petheram, of Otis Orchards, gave $20, as did Warren Fasbender, of Spokane.
Virginia Piper, of Spokane Valley, gave $20.
Carol and Dan Weaver, of Spokane, gave $15.
Tim and Jacquelynn Henney, of Ponderay, Idaho, gave $13.
Paul Myhre, of Spokane Valley, gave $10.