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Christmas Bureau starts a bit behind

Kickoff amount nearly $12,000 less than last year’s

Like Santa’s elves, Christmas Bureau planners work all year, shopping for the best deals on quality toys and age-appropriate books to stock the bureau shelves for approximately 35,000 low-income adults and children.

And thanks to generous readers who contribute to the Christmas Bureau throughout the year, the fund starts with a balance, a first step toward the $525,000 goal.

This year, however, the fund is starting almost $12,000 behind its 2011 kickoff amount. On Thanksgiving Day, when the fundraising officially began, donations totaled just over $16,000. That means the bureau needs to raise almost $509,000 by Christmas – but organizers are confident the Spokane community will respond to the need.

“We have the goal of $525,000 because that is truly the amount of money we need in order to pay for all of the books and toys and food vouchers. The demand has gone up these last few years,” said Judy Lee, Christmas Bureau coordinator.

“I’m confident we will catch up. The Spokane community has supported this program for 66 years. I think that people know there is a need. People that are comfortable, that have a little extra, know there are other people who are struggling,” she said. “The fact that the Christmas Bureau has been around as long as it has is something that Spokane can be so proud of.”

Founded in 1945, the Christmas Bureau is a philanthropic partnership among The Spokesman-Review, Volunteers of America and Catholic Charities. At the bureau, people in need select one toy for each of their children and receive one book for each child through age 14. Each person also receives a grocery voucher based on household size so they can buy fixings for Christmas dinner.

“The bureau is a place that brightens their day,” said Rob McCann, executive director of Catholic Charities Spokane. “We serve 30,000 to 35,000 people in 10 days. Not many places around the U.S. can say that. For a city the size of Spokane it’s a testament to the level of caring and compassion that our community has for the poor.”

The charity is funded by donations from Spokesman-Review readers and staffed with almost 400 volunteers. About 96 percent of the money raised pays for the vouchers and toys. The rest goes to overhead expenses.

“One of the great things about the Christmas Bureau is that we run the whole operation in an extremely frugal way,” said McCann. “Considering how many people we serve and how many hours we spend, the fact that we don’t spend a lot of money on overhead is a real blessing.”


In addition to the contributions reported on Monday, the following donors gave during the year, before the Thanksgiving kickoff.

Moss Adams LLP gave three donations totaling $1,369.51.

The Spokesman-Review editorial department gave $1,352.60 raised through its “freebie sale.”

Spokane’s Shadle Lions Club gave $300, writing: “The Shadle Lions Club members take pride in providing service to those in need. Although our club is very small we continue to generate income by collecting and recycling the newspapers. … We know there are many areas of need.”

The Barbara Augusta Gift Fund at Charles Schwab Charitable Fund donated $200, in addition to the $200 donation reported Monday.

Joseph Toombs Jr., of Spokane Valley, donated $100 in memory of Lois Toombs.

Charles Lobdell, of Spokane, gave $100.

An anonymous donor gave $98.75 via PayPal.

Gerald and Geraldine Rein donated $89.

Paul Swinehart, of Tacoma, gave $50.