While waiting in line at the Christmas Bureau on Thursday, Ashley and William Hall discussed what their kids wanted most for Christmas.
Hailey, 8, is hoping for a Monster High doll and William, 10, wants a remote control car. But their 16-year-old sister has a different Christmas wish.
“Amber wants a boyfriend,” joked her dad.
The parents wanted to make those wishes come true, but affording big gifts is difficult when they’re already struggling to pay their regular bills.
“It’s been pretty rough, especially with medical expenses,” said Ashley Hall, whose bipolar diagnosis means she needs ongoing medication and medical care. Though she started receiving Social Security about a year ago, she said it feels like her family just can’t catch up financially.
“I pay one thing and let one thing go. Then I pay that thing. It seems like I’m always behind,” she said.
When a friend told them about the Christmas Bureau, they decided to come for the holiday help but didn’t expect to walk away with a little Christmas magic.
The Christmas Bureau distributes books, toys and food vouchers to needy families. The charity needs to raise $525,000 by Christmas to fund those efforts. With only $160,724.86 raised to date, that means it needs more than $30,000 a day to make its goal and pay for the toys, books and vouchers that already have been purchased.
Since 1945 the Spokane community has supported the charity, with individuals, businesses and groups donating time and money to make the holidays happy for about 10,000 families.
That support comes from all corners, including Spokane’s Jewish community. Yesterday, longtime volunteer Hal Ellis led Rabbi Michael Goldstein on a tour of the bureau, its second day of a nine-day run at the fairgrounds, during which the charity served 3,803 people in 1,111 households.
“I clearly don’t celebrate Christmas, but this is such a significant gift to the Spokane community,” said Goldstein. “I want to support it by coming here and giving my endorsement. It’s a time when so many people in our country are in need and the Christmas Bureau can give a lift to so many.”
For the Halls, that lift happened when they arrived to find the line outside covered by a long tent.
“It was awesome. It was very well planned. It wasn’t just thrown together,” said Hall. “It was nice that people made sure you were covered if you were outside.”
But when they walked into the toy room they got an even bigger lift: the exact presents requested by Hailey and William. And maybe Amber will catch that boyfriend with a bottle of perfume.
“I was very surprised that I could get what the kids were after. They have their big presents that they wanted,” said Hall, stressing that she’s grateful for the help. “You can tell people put a lot of time and effort into it … I’m thankful for everybody’s participation … They’ve done a good deed. They’ve made a lot of kids’ Christmas happy.”
PAML Human Resources sent $3,934, including 53 individual checks from employees totaling $549. “As employees of PAML, we are delighted to inform you that your charity has been chosen to receive a monetary donation from us!” they wrote. “Your charity was selected based on the work you do in our communities as well as your Mission Statement.”
Judy Camp, of Spokane, gave $1,000.
John and Terry Engleman, of Spokane, gave $500, as did Sean and Gretchen LaSalle and Donald Tuttle.
Patti Piper, of Spokane, gave $400: $300 in memory of her husband, Pete Piper, and $100 in memory of Michael M. Graves.
An anonymous Cheney donor gave $300.
John and Whitney Sestero, of Spokane, gave $250, as did Shirley and Burton Pendleton.
Matthew Shelley, of Wilmington, Del., gave $250.
Renae Younker, of Newman Lake, gave $202.64 via PayPal.
Doug Pearson, of Spokane, gave $193.90 via PayPal on behalf of the employees at Mountain Laboratories.
Kathy & Randy Maurer, of Spokane, gave $145.35 via PayPal.
Jackie Flanigan, of Mead, gave $96.80 via PayPal.
Julie Aller, of Spokane, gave $96.80 via PayPal, as did Thomas Baldwin.