On the first two days of the Christmas Bureau, one of the popular presents made it to the naughty list. The iConcepts brand digital music players were bad, said coordinator Judy Lee, noting they pulled the defective devices, which are green, purple, blue or red, from the toy room Thursday afternoon. The bureau also stocked pink and white Sound X digital music players that function fine.
About 300 MP3 players had already been chosen as gifts by parents. Those families with faulty MP3 players can exchange them for working replacements during bureau hours, this Monday through Friday, between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. “Just tell the greeter at the door and we’ll take care of you,” Lee said.
The Christmas Bureau distributes books, toys and food vouchers for about 10,000 less-fortunate families. It opened Wednesday and runs through this coming Friday. It’s closed today.
The bureau, sponsored by Catholic Charities, Volunteers of America and The Spokesman-Review, depends on donations and needs to raise more than $323,000 between now and Christmas to pay for the books, toys and food vouchers so families like Rosanna Jordan’s can have a happy holiday.
Jordan took her daughter Kaysha Davis, 4, to the bureau on Thursday to pick out a Christmas present.
About eight months ago the single mom with two kids moved in with her own mom to help make ends meet. But the holidays are hard, and she has a birthday present to buy as well: Kaysha turns 5 on the 22nd.
“It’s a lot right now,” Jordan said. “I just want them to have a good Christmas, just like any parent would want for their kids.”
Though Kaysha is missing her two front teeth, she said she wants a puppy cage for Christmas, so she has a safe place to put Sally bird. The little girl held out a finger, a perch for the imaginary pet she takes everywhere.
Though they didn’t have any puppy cages, when Kaysha saw a pink tea cart she smiled and began pushing the toy toward the exit. Her mom picked up the box and a volunteer distracted the girl. By Christmas she’ll be surprised again by her gift and the talking T-ball set her mom picked out for her older brother.
“She’s going to be so excited for Christmas,” Jordan said. “Thanks for making my kids’ Christmas better. Way better.”
Compared to last year, donations for the Christmas Bureau are down. At this point in 2012 more than 900 individuals, groups or businesses had contributed $241,870. By comparison, this year, 682 donors have sent $201,414.86.
However big or small, each donation is appreciated because it helps make a merry Christmas for the families who turn to the bureau for help. As thanks, donations are printed in the paper daily.
NW Orthopaedic Specialists donated $11,600. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to express our support and gratitude to the Spokane community,” they wrote. “We are honored to be able to contribute to your efforts to give to those in need this holiday season. Thank you for continuing to inspire others and us by sharing what we believe truly makes the holiday season special.”
Geraldine Fait, of Spokane, donated $10,000 in memory of her “loving husband of 67 years.”
Avista Corp. sent $5,000 on behalf of Avista employees. “The spirit of giving this holiday season is indeed alive and well in our community, and nowhere is it better exemplified than through the Christmas Bureau. Working together, individuals, organizations and businesses are making a difference in the lives of children, families and our more vulnerable neighbors, and that makes Spokane a better place for all of us,” CEO Scott Morris wrote. “Thank you for your continued work to assure that the holiday season is bright and hopeful for everyone.”
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $100 “in memory of Bill Kinzer who embodied the spirit of giving to our community with all of his years of participation in service organizations throughout his life.”
An anonymous caregiver at Alderwood Care Center gave Christmas Bureau volunteer Bob Brown $10. He’d gone there to visit a friend and talked about the Christmas Bureau during their conversation. “An aide was listening,” he said, describing how she came back to give him all the cash she had in her wallet.
“She was joy-filled,” he said. “It tells me she’s the type of person who’s been touched by generosity. She doesn’t have a lot but is willing to give to those who have less.”