For many needy families in our area, today is the first shopping day of the season. The Christmas Bureau opens at 10 a.m. at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center.
At the bureau, low-income families can pick from a selection of quality toys and books so their children have something to open at Christmas. Additionally, the bureau provides a food voucher of $15 to $30 per household, based on family size.
The Christmas Bureau is Spokane’s gesture of good will to less-fortunate families. Funded by donations from the community, the charity served 32,060 people from almost 10,000 households last year. The average monthly income per household was $1,128.72.
To fund the charity, which is a partnership among Catholic Charities, Volunteers of America and The Spokesman-Review, the bureau needs to raise $525,000. While still lagging behind last year’s pace, last weekend almost 150 people or organizations contributed $25,000.
“Thank you, thank you!” Christmas Bureau coordinator Judy Lee said. “I’m super pleased with the increase in donations and hope people know we need to continue to have donations this season. I have faith in the community that they know the need is there and they’ll come through for us.”
About 96 percent of the money raised buys books, toys and food vouchers, with 4 percent going to overhead. About 400 volunteers assist during the bureau’s nine-day run. The first three days are staffed by experienced workers to keep the line moving quickly.
“That’s always the goal: to not have people stand outside and not have them stand in line for five hours,” volunteer coordinator Brigid Krause said. “It’s always about taking care of the recipients.”
People are welcomed at the door, walking a red carpet into line. When they reach the front, they must present identification and proof of address for every member of their household, including children.
The only new policy this year is that dogs must be left home. Service animals will go through additional screening, and those with service animals will shop via video, as all animals are prohibited in the toy room due to limited space and safety concerns, organizers said.
After address verification, recipients make their way to a computer station where they receive a grocery voucher based on household size: $15 for a single person, $20 for a household of two, $25 for three and $30 for families of four or more.
Parents can then take their children to play in a child care area so gifts can be kept secret.
Next, at the book tables, experienced teachers, librarians and book lovers help parents choose books based on the age and interests of each child.
From there, parents go behind red curtains to shop in the toy room, filled with high-quality items volunteers have bought at a discount. From sleeping bags and soccer balls to dolls, cars and makeup, there’s something for everyone.
Finally, volunteers bag the presents and help anyone needing assistance to their car, sending with them with holiday cheer from the entire community.
“People come because they feel like they’re struggling,” Lee said. “By the time they leave, they’ll be thrilled with what they received and how they were treated.”
It takes a lot of donations from the community to make the Christmas Bureau possible. Whether the amount is a few dollars or thousands, it’s recognized in the paper as thanks for continuing a 68-year tradition of holiday giving to those in need.
The Law Offices of Douglas, Eden, Phillips, DeRuyter and Stanyer gave $5,000. “During this holiday season of peace and sharing, it is our privilege to join with others in the community to support the fund and help spread joy and goodwill to families in need,” the firm wrote. “Thank you for your good work in making the holidays a special time for so many people.”
An anonymous donor gave $2,000, writing, “We feel very fortunate to be able to contribute to this very worthy cause. Thank you for giving some holiday cheer to those in need in our community.”
The Association of Retired Avista Employees donated $621.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $509.
Gust Abariotes, of Spokane Valley, gave $500. “Please tell all the volunteers thank you and have a merry Christmas.”
Peter and Gay Witherspoon, of Spokane, gave $500, as did Mr. & Mrs. Robert Griffith, of Veradale, and an anonymous Spokane Valley donor.
Drs. Hood, Dodson and Walpole and their team at Evergreen Cosmetic & Family Dentistry in Spokane Valley gave $500 “to help brighten the Christmas season for others in our community.”
Ryan Baddeley, of Liberty Lake, gave $485.20 via PayPal, as did Ronald and Diane Kaufman, of Spokane, and Don Eikenberry, of Spokane, who gave in memory of Bob Rousselle.
Judith Hudson, of Spokane, gave $350 in memory of Don Kelly. “Don was a volunteer for years at the Christmas Bureau and a wonderful friend to many,” she wrote.
Barbara and Roger Tompkins, of Spokane, gave $300, as did Laborers’ Local No. 238.
The Baumstark family – Julia, Jeremy, Emily, Mark, Beth and Eric – of Spokane gave $300.
An anonymous Greenacres donor gave $250, as did an anonymous Spokane donor.
Barbara and David Floyd, of Newport, gave $250.
Dorothy and Robert Putz, of Spokane, gave $250 in memory of Jack, “to help others have a blessed and happy Christmas.”
Tom and Nancy Nelson, of Colbert, gave $200, as did Rob Bauerle.
Leslie and Nicholas Zilka, of Liberty Lake, gave $200.
Spokane donors giving $200 include Steven and Linda Swartley, Steve and Peggy Koehler, Carolyn and James Craven, two anonymous donors, and Joseph and Janice Kaley, who wrote, “Blessings to all who help make the holiday brighter for all.”
Christine Gamble, of Spokane, gave $200 in honor of Ria and Catya.
Abigail and Donald Barden, of Spokane, gave $200, writing, “Wish we could send more. We’re new here and didn’t plan ahead, being unaware of your program. Next year, we should be better prepared.”
Beverly Massie, of Spokane, gave $200 “in memory of my hubby Glen who loved this charity best of all,” she wrote. “May it be put to good use. May all you have a blessed holiday.”
Judy Boyer, of Spokane, gave $200. “You are a blessing to our community.”
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $200, writing, “We knew Don Kelly and he was a wonderful, kind, caring man. I know he will be missed.”
Nancy James, of Spokane, gave $193.90 via PayPal.
Jennifer Brandt, of Greenacres, gave $150.
Donna Roloff, of Spokane, gave $150, as did Beth Schomburg, who wrote, “Thank you for all your good work helping the people of Spokane.”
The Michael L. Pearson Trust gave $150.
William Stanley, of Spokane, gave $101.65 via PayPal.
Myma Decker, of Liberty Lake, gave $100 in loving memory of her deceased husband, Robert, who was always generous to others.
Thomas and Bette Brattebo and family, of Liberty Lake, gave $100, as did Dennis and Susan Conley, of Moses Lake, and Marlene McBride, of Nine Mile Falls, who gave in memory of Doris, “who thought ‘caring and sharing’ were very important.”
David and Karen Trejbal, of Rockford, gave $100, as did Frank and Linda Browne, of Spokane, who gave in memory of Don Kelly, “a USPS friend from long ago.”
Other Spokane donors giving $100 include Mary and David Larsen, Joyce Stefanoff, John and Dolores Skelton, Gail Harper, Ryan and Gwen Taylor, E.A. Thorpe, Maryann Drewniak, Larry and Sandy Neil, Clifford Rankin, William and Mary Ellen Mays, Jean Jalufka, Jean Rose, Dr. Wayne Attwood, Jerry and Helen Gillory, Ellen Ostheller, Joan and Jerry White, Linda Urquhart, Richard and Karen Steek, and six anonymous donors.
Bruce and Sharon Anthony, of Spokane, gave $100, writing, “This is a wonderful community event!”
Grace Nissen, of Spokane, gave $100. “It has always been my favorite gift to a Christmas fund because the money is mostly given for toys. … Thank you again for your good work!”
Darlene Waller, of Spokane, gave $100 in memory of Darroll Waller and Jack and Margaret Waller. “They believed in what you do as do I,” she wrote.
John and Marcia Magnuson, of Spokane, gave $100 in memory of their mother and father, Anna Bernice Kienholz and Richard Felix Miller.
Phyllis Eide, of Spokane, gave $100 in recognition of the example of giving set by her mother, Jacqueline Eide.
Dave and Gail Deroshia, of Spokane, gave $100. “We are very blessed and we would like to share our blessings to those in need this holiday season,” they wrote.
Additional Spokane donors giving $100 include Frances and Bruce Rogers, Susan Anderson, John and Donna Leaming, Dorothy and Charles Carrier, Robert and Peggy Frank, Edward Ellefsen, Marian and Eric Anderson, M.R. Wenk, and Jim and Margo Walesby.
Emmett and Marylu Arndt, of Spokane, gave $100. “Thank you for helping so many families have a blessed Christmas,” they wrote.
Spokane Valley donors giving $100 were Nancy Stone, Roger Erhart, the Repp family, and Grandpa and Abby, who wrote, “to help make Christmas bright. We thank you all for your dedication and hard work in helping the people of Spokane.”
Spokane donors giving $96.80 via PayPal were Dean Nagel, Sula Potter, Rand Young, Matthew Pugel and Bill Molsberry.
Barbara Lien, of Spokane Valley, gave $96.80 via PayPal, writing, “Thank you for making so many Christmases a little brighter.”
Arlene Waters, of Spokane, gave $75, as did George and Ruth Swan, and an anonymous donor, both of Spokane Valley.
The Human Resources group at Gonzaga University gave $75. “Each year we collect money and participate in a giving tree at Gonzaga to purchase a warm clothing item and a toy for each child,” they wrote. “The HR group was very generous with donations for the purchases this year, resulting in $75 of excess contributions. We have decided to donate the $75 to the Christmas Bureau to assist with the Bureau’s efforts to provide toys, books and food to Spokane families. Good luck reaching your goal.”
Michael Brown, of Spokane, gave $74.93 via PayPal.
An anonymous Spokane Valley donor gave $60.
Jerry Hubbard, of Spokane, gave $53.10 via PayPal.
Mike and Carol Huebner, of Moscow, Idaho, gave $50, as did John and Connie Overdorff, of Otis Orchards.
Helen Casper, of Spokane, gave $50, writing, “I am happy to be able to make a family happy this Christmas, especially the children who are involved!”
Kris Spelman, of Spokane, gave $50 in loving memory of great aunt Elsie Altin and grandmother Violet Burgunder.
Other Spokane donors giving $50 include Donna Carter, Marsha Hansen, Wileva Damon, Ron and Dolores Holm, Bobo’s and two anonymous donors.
Gerry Rose, of Spokane, gave $50 in memory of her husband, Arlen Rose. “Thank you for helping others,” she wrote.
Laurie Anderson, of Spokane, gave $50, writing, “I’ve wanted to donate to this fund for years and years but never felt in a position to do so until this year. I’m glad to be a part of this wonderful service you provide.”
Spokane Valley donors giving $50 include Tony and Sally Faraca, Carol Wilson, two anonymous donors, and Nancy Hood, who wrote, “Thank you for another year of helping our community.”
Gary Fiscus, of Liberty Lake, gave $48.25 via PayPal, as did the following Spokane donors: Margaret Burke, Dixie Zahniser and Mike Wilson.
Beatrice Scheele, of Spokane, gave $40, as did Olevia Page, who gave in memory of her husband, Ed Page, who died this year.
Kara McGinn, of Spokane, gave $38.54 via PayPal.
Richard and Frances Mann, of Liberty Lake, gave $35.
Laura Nestoss, of Spokane, gave $35 in memory of Bill Nestoss, who believed everyone should have a merry Christmas.
Two anonymous Spokane donors gave $35.
H.O. Wilson, of Greenacres, gave $30, as did Helen Foster, of Spokane.
Kathleen Winters, of Cheney, gave $25.
Spokane donors giving $25 include Lawrence Smith, three anonymous donors, and Dale and Jeanette Lenseigne.
Spokane Valley donors giving $25 include Cynthia Stufflebeam, Marilyn Clements and an anonymous donor.
Tampsin Witner, of Elk, gave $23.97 via PayPal “in memory of my Dad, Lloyd Kay, who loved Christmas.”
Dean Ottmar, of Spokane, gave $20.
Lynne Ludington, of Liberty Lake, gave $19.12 via PayPal.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $10, writing, “I’m embarrassed because I can’t give more.”
Dorothy Carter, of Spokane, also gave $10, as did WG Phipps.
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