In 2009, when Helen Dobbins’ grandson Peyton was 2 years old, he came to live with her. After a death in the family, Dobbins said, the boy’s mom had problems that made her unable to care for the small boy. So Dobbins stepped in and gained third-party custody, taking on a second season of parenting.
It was a sacrifice of love underscored with worry. Worry about meeting Peyton’s emotional needs. Worry about her daughter. Worry about the bills.
“I thought, ‘How am I going to be able to afford this and meet his needs?’ ” she said. “I pay bills and that’s all I have.”
Now in kindergarten, Peyton is doing well and learning to read, said Dobbins, adding that her daughter is working to re-establish a relationship with him. While this eases some of the worry, Dobbins lost her job and doesn’t have the resources to buy Christmas gifts the way she’d like.
That’s why she turned to the Christmas Bureau.
Funded by reader donations, each year the bureau distributes books, toys and food vouchers to help families in need for the holidays. This year the charity served 32,060 people, providing gifts for 16,124 children and $15 to $30 food vouchers for 9,877 households.
The fund is getting closer to its $525,000 goal but needs to raise more to fund the books, toys and vouchers that make the holidays a little better for struggling families like Dobbins’. Donations are gratefully accepted through noon Thursday.
For Dobbins, the choice to use the Christmas Bureau was difficult, but she wanted to provide a happy Christmas morning for Peyton.
“It’s hard for me,” she said through tears. “I want to be on the giving side and not the receiving end. But I’m thankful for places like this. Without the Christmas Bureau, he probably wouldn’t be getting much from me.”
Thinking of her grandson’s reaction on Christmas morning, Dobbins ran her hands over the plush fur of a stuffed dog and smiled. “I think he’ll be ecstatic.”
Garco Construction, of Spokane, gave the Christmas Fund a big boost with a $21,500 donation.
“As we have for the past 30+ years, we at Garco are pleased to be able to give back to this community that has been responsible for much of our success. We thank all of the many volunteers that make this all possible,” they wrote in an accompanying letter.
Garco gives employees the opportunity to contribute to the charities of their choice, matching gifts with corporate donations. $4,890 of their donation came from employees.
“We support lots of other activities,” said CEO Tim Welsh Sr. “People realize that our economy … has been hit hard. The last four years have been tough.
“We think The Spokesman-Review, Catholic Charities and (Volunteers of America) do a tremendous job of taking care of those people who are less fortunate this time of year,” he said. “To be able to contribute money and have 4 percent go to overhead is a pretty good deal.”
Ringo’s Little Vegas in Spokane Valley and Aces Casino on the North Side raised a combined $3,538 for the Christmas Fund through their numerous poker tournaments between Nov. 15 and Dec. 15. The casinos donated $1 from each tournament entry while also encouraging customers to make additional donations “to help those less fortunate in the Inland Northwest this holiday season.”
“I think it’s a good community-organized event and thought it would be nice to be part of that,” corporate manager Sean Kienzle said.
I.S. and Emily Feherman Foundation, of Spokane, gave $1,000, as did Max Kuney Co., of Spokane.
An anonymous donor gave $200 in memory of the slain children and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $150, writing, “Thank you for all that you do for the community.”
Laverne Linder, of Spokane, gave $101.
Scott and Leslie Huff, of Kingwood, Texas, gave $100.
Carole Swensen, of Spokane, gave $100 in memory of her cousin Michael J. Moore.
Bob and Dorothy Yohe, of Spirit Lake, gave $100 in memory of their son Kenneth Anderson. “Thanks for all your good work for the less fortunate.”
Phil Anderson, of Veradale, gave $100, as did an anonymous donor.
An anonymous Mead donor gave $75. “Thank you for all you do for families at this time of year.”
Alan, Dwain and Phyllis Hanson, of Spokane, gave $75.
Denise Maroney and Mike Moulton, of Spokane, gave $60 in memory of brother Jeff.
Dixie and Mary Riddle, of Mead, gave $50.
Virginia Hottell, of Spokane, gave $50 “for all the little children.”
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $35.
James and Char Hitter gave $30.
Nancy Cabe, of Chattaroy, gave $25 in memory of her daughter Deanna, “who loved Christmas.”
Joyce Oens, of Rockford, gave $20, as did Ralph Walter, who gave in memory of Carol Walter.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $5, writing, “To all the children you are helping … I wish I could send much more!”