While Santa may be fueled by milk and cookies, people at the Christmas Bureau are fueled by coffee.
Each year Cravens Coffee and URM donate coffee and cups to serve the hundreds of volunteers and thousands of recipients who arrive at the fairgrounds, where people in need can get a toy for each child, books for children through age 14 and a grocery voucher for each family.
“Community involvement is a key part of what we do,” said Cravens Coffee owner Simon Craven Thompson. “We just think the Christmas Bureau is the real deal. … Christmas can be an incredibly sad time of year for a lot of people. As the economy struggles and as a society we struggle, that means it’s going to be even sadder. … It’s a small thing, but what we can do to share.”
The Christmas Bureau, sponsored by Catholic Charities in partnership with Volunteers of America and The Spokesman-Review, is also fueled by much-needed donations, most of which arrive from newspaper readers between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
To help reader donations go further and keep costs low, the bureau relies on in-kind donations from businesses like Cravens Coffee and URM.
“We’re in the food business and it just makes sense to us to do our part,” said URM CEO Dean Sonnenberg. “They do such a good job at the bureau. … It’s a good fit for us and it’s a great need in the community, so we’re glad to be able to help out.”
Other in-kind donors include:
• Scholastic Inc. and the local Scholastic warehouse donated 8,763 children’s books, valued at approximately $43,000.
• National Storage Centers donates a year-round storage unit to store supplies such as tables, chairs and children’s play area equipment. “Our philosophy is to try to help everybody get through the hard times,” said Cindy Oswald, property manager.
• ABC Mini Storage provides two year-round storage units at a discount. The company also lends a moving truck for setup and tear-down of the bureau.
“The Christmas Bureau does so many awesome things,” said ABC manager Angela Miller. “We have that space. We might as well have somebody use it. … It’s something we like to do to help in the community.”
• Arby’s on East Sprague Avenue donates lunches for the hundreds of volunteers.
• The House of Charity brings homemade soup for the volunteers.
• Bunzl donates almost 2,000 plastic bags for recipients to carry large toy items.
• Safeway, Yoke’s Fresh Market, Albertsons and The Trading Co. donate 8,000 to 10,000 plastic grocery bags.
• The Wandermere Fred Meyer store donated a $100 gift card to purchase doughnuts for volunteers.
• Costco in Spokane Valley lends five flatbed carts.
• Pizza Pipeline provides discounted pizza for volunteer orientation.
• Jim Custer Enterprises coordinates with LCD Exposition Services and Senske Christmas Décor to create Christmas ambience and efficiency at the bureau.
“We’re trying to create an atmosphere for those that use the bureau, those that are in need for Christmas,” said Clint Branz of Jim Custer Enterprises. “We want to make it as joyous and festive as we possibly can for them.”
• Spokane Chiefs Hockey Club brings fan-donated stuffed animals from the Teddy Bear Toss game on Dec 15.
• Central Valley High School also donates stuffed animals.
• The Hoo Hoo Express Club donates handcrafted wooden trucks for use in the children’s play area.
• Parsons Construction Co. sends employees and trucks to help with setup and tear-down.
“We like to find ways we can help out in the community,” said owner Karen Parsons. “It really gives you a good look at your community, the folks you are living around and working around. … The need is startling and the recipients are always so grateful.”
The C.T. Nuxoll family, of Spokane, gave $1,500 with a note, “We wish health and happiness to all and may the good Lord take care of you.”
Jim and Jeanette Koppa, of Spokane Valley, sent $300. “A contribution to those less fortunate than us,” they wrote. “Merry Christmas and a wish for a Happy New Year!”
Karen Woodworth, of Spokane, donated $250.
Brett, Hayden and Halle Hober, of Spokane; Lynda Ensign and Ken Gerard, of Clayton; and Harold and Ruth Bates, of Veradale, each gave $200.
An anonymous donor from Chattaroy sent a card containing $161.
Norman and S.R. Genung, as well as Gordon and Mara Lynn Cooper, all of Spokane, each gave $150.
Howie and Jennifer Stalwick, of Post Falls, sent $100.
Grace Nissen, of Spokane, gave $100, writing, “As I do every year, I am sending a donation to my favorite organization to give to. I know it is for our locality to use. Thank you so much for this opportunity.”
The Spokane Inland Empire chapter of American Ex-Prisoners of War gave $100, writing: “There are very few of us anymore and next year we may not have a chapter, but this year we wanted to send $100 to those in need.”
Other Spokane donors giving $100 were Ruby McNeice, Harley and Melanie Reckord, Grand Corner Dental, and Mrs. Lane Klees. Klees wrote, “Thanks, I know Spokane will ‘pull together’ again!”
An anonymous donor, of Spokane, gave $55.
John and Jody Beck, of Spokane Valley, sent $50.
Judith Schoepflin, of Spokane, donated $35.
Nona Doyle’s secret Santa at work donated $33.68 via PayPal because “this is what she requested instead of receiving a gift.”
Arthur Strassenberg, of Spokane, sent $30.
Patricia Funkhouser, of Spokane, donated $25.
Bob Hedlud donated $20.