Christmas Bureau gives family reasons to smile
Kenneth Jordan, 11, is fairly serious, his manner more world-weary teenager than carefree child. He’s the man of the house.
It’s understandable. Kenneth’s dad was killed several years ago, and he spent many months in transitional housing, living in shelters with his mom, Margie Brown, and two younger siblings.
Though the family moved into a small apartment in April with help from St. Margaret’s Shelter, tough times weren’t over. Last summer, Kenneth’s brother Derek died, losing a lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis.
Stories like these are why the Christmas Bureau exists, to give kids like Kenneth something to smile about.
The Christmas Bureau distributes books, toys and $15 to $30 food vouchers so needy families have hope for a happy holiday. It finishes its nine-day run at the fairgrounds on Friday but still needs to raise another $134,032 to pay for the gifts, books and food vouchers given to more than 7,000 households so far this year.
Along with the gifts his mom picked out at the bureau, Kenneth got another reason to smile: The boy, who loves hockey just like his older brother Derek did, got VIP access to the Spokane Chiefs game against the Prince George Cougars last Saturday, for Teddy Bear Toss night.
That same day, his younger siblings, Heaven Brown, 4, and Mathew Jordan, 8, went on an airplane ride to see Santa courtesy of Fantasy Flight.
“It helps the heart,” Margie Brown said of the excursions for her children and the Christmas Bureau presents they’ll open. “It teaches my kids to not take things for granted. I think my kids would rather give a gift than receive a gift, but this makes you think there are nice people out there.”
At the Chiefs game, Kenneth and his mom accompanied Catholic Charities Executive Director Rob McCann to meet the players and exchange high-fives in the locker room before the game. He received a Chiefs jersey signed by all the players and a box full of memorabilia and two tickets to another game.
Kenneth watched warm-ups from the team bench, then moved to the stands for the game. But as soon as the first goal was scored he went on the ice to gather teddy bears and other stuffed animals fans toss for the Christmas Bureau. This required a truck, since they collected about 6,000 plush toys that went to the bureau to be distributed this week.
Though he’s never been ice skating, Kenneth said he “slid on purpose. It was fun.”
And after the chiefs won 6-3, Kenneth visited the team locker room, eventually leaving with a hockey stick used in the game as well as a puck, his jersey, a lot of autographs and a memory that will last a lifetime.
“This is a kid who’s not necessarily a smiler. This has been a rough couple of years,” McCann said. “But by the end of the night he was smiling from ear to ear. He had a great time.”
Thanks to generous donations from companies and community members, children like Kenneth Jordan and his siblings will have something to open on Christmas morning:
Hotstart, a Spokane company that manufactures diesel engine heaters, donated $10,000.
Employees and retirees of Jensen Distribution Services gave a total of $10,000, writing, “to those in need in our community. We wish for everyone a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years.”
Cochrane and Company gave $7,500. “We at Cochrane & Company are very pleased to again donate to such a worthy and valuable cause,” Nick Cochrane wrote.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $5,000. “We give to honor and remember those who have gone before us – those whose love and faith were constant in our lives! We were and are so very blessed. Merry Christmas!”
Jim and Maggie Randall gave $5,000 via Schwab Charitable in memory of Don Kelly. “Thank you to the Christmas Bureau for providing a special service to many families to make their Christmas more enjoyable,” they wrote.
Kelley and Patrick Rusnak, of Spokane, gave $1,000, as did Don and Donna Rockstrom, an anonymous donor and Colvico Inc.
Dennis and Janice McMann, of Newport, gave $500.
Leslie and Donna Dieckman, of Spokane, gave $500, as did an anonymous donor who wrote, “Thank you for the good you do in Spokane.”
Aaron and Crystal, of Spokane, gave $500 “in loving memory of our mom Jill Dahl who passed away October 21st. Since we cannot give her a present in person we’re donating in her name to those less fortunate. She would like that.”
Kevin West of Morgan Stanley, of Spokane, gave $500 “to help those in need in our community. Thank you to all the volunteers that make the holidays a bit brighter for these families,” he wrote.
Larry and Joanna, of Deer Park, gave $400.
The James Murray family, of Spokane, gave $400 “in honor and memory of our beloved wife and mother, Eileen Murray. May your holidays be blessed with family, friends and joyful memories,” they wrote. “Merry Christmas to all!”
Claude and Mable Mitson, of Spokane Valley, gave $400.
Sharon and Fred Clark, of Chattaroy, gave $300.
Ken Gerard and Lynda Ensign, of Clayton, Wash., gave $300.
Linda and Clayton Dunn, of Spokane, gave $300. “Best wishes in your fine efforts,” they wrote.
Two anonymous Spokane donors gave $300, one writing, “God has blessed me in so many ways. I wish to share my good fortune with those who are going through hard times. Thank you for this wonderful program that does just that.”
Shirley and Matt Alling, of Spokane, gave $300. “It’s that wonderful time of year. At least for most. That’s why we cannot forget you all. Remember how love is spelled. Give! God bless you all. Remembering our parents, Milbert and Frances Joachim and George Alling.”
Allan Morrison, of Spokane, gave $300.
An anonymous Spokane Valley donor gave $300, writing, “Thanks to all the wonderful volunteers for all their work. I have been giving since 1954. Bless all of you.”
Steve and Karen Heaps, of Spokane Valley, gave $300. “Thanks to you and your volunteers for all you do to make Christmas bright.”
Bruce and Judy Butler, of Hope, Idaho, gave $250 “in memory of longtime Christmas Bureau volunteers Don Kelly and Nancy Gillespie.”
Mr. and Mrs. Steven Stoyanac, of Mead, gave $250.
Spokane donors giving $250 were an anonymous donor, Guy March, and Lynn and Alvin Schmidt, who donated via their Schwab Charitable gift account.
Dave and Tracy Kelly, of Spokane, gave $242.45 via PayPal in memory of Don Kelly.
Frank and Nancy Bilbao, of Spokane, gave $242.45 via PayPal.
John and Sherry Gaiser, of Spokane, gave $210.
Diana and Ed L. Honodel Jr., of Otis Orchards, gave $200.
Spokane donors giving $200 include Jennifer Wengeler, Mr. and Mrs. James Hiller, The Mediation Center and two anonymous donors, one who gave “in memory of our son Tom.”
Tim Loucks, of Spokane, gave two gifts of $100 via PayPal, one in honor of Paul Jalufka and one in honor of Nelson and Jean.
Rocky and Eleanor Seelbach, of Spokane Valley, gave $200.
Maryann Cooley, of Cheney, gave $193.90 via PayPal “in memory of Cooley.”
Jane Curtis, of Spokane Valley, gave $193.90 via PayPal.
Spokane donors giving $150 include Jerald and Helen Gerson, two anonymous donors, and Larry and Tudy Hatch, who wrote, “For the folks you help.”
Georgene Patten, of Spokane, gave $150 “in honor of the 15 years that one of your volunteers, Mick Soss, has participated in your Christmas bureau. Thank you for the opportunity to honor Mick and thank you for the commitment shown by all the volunteers to offer a happier holiday for those in our community.”
An anonymous Spokane Valley donor gave $150.
An anonymous Valleyford donor gave $150 “in memory of my father, Donald, and my niece Devin Johnson.”
David and Georgette Naccarato, of Valleyford, gave $150.
The employees of Sunshine Disposal & Recycling gave $133 in lieu of an office gift exchange. “We know that this money can be used to help fulfill needs and wishes of members of the community who are so much less fortunate than we are,” they wrote. “Thank you for making the holiday season truly a time of celebration and blessing.”
James Kearney, of Spokane Valley, gave $125.
An anonymous Airway Heights donor gave $100. “Thank you for all your efforts to make this time of year cheerier for so many people! I am glad that I can participate,” they wrote.
An anonymous Colbert donor gave $100, writing, “Thanks to all the people who volunteer to help with the Christmas bureau.”
Debra Dahl, of Liberty Lake, gave $100.
Virginia Besemer, of Liberty Lake, gave $100.
Sandra Czernik, of Medical Lake, gave $100, writing, “Thank you to your staff and volunteers for all the happiness you’re giving to our community.”
Gerald and Dawn Goertz, of Medical Lake, gave $100 in memory of their parents James Soderman and Herb and Florence Goertz. “Once again, we are fortunate enough and it is an honor to donate,” they wrote.
Kelli Thompson, of Rathdrum, gave $100, writing, “In memory of Dale Mitchell. I miss you so much, Dad. In memory of Rory Mitchell, my big brother gone too soon. Love you both.”
Spokane donors giving $100 include Sue Wotring, Kassi Kain, Garry and Barb Kehr, G and J Schroeder, four anonymous donors, David and Maxine Breshears, Andrea Gunning, Robert and Susan Anselmo, Barbara McCowan and Marilyn Mayfield, who wrote, “in memory of my husband, Troy Mayfield and my son Patrick Geng. Thank you for helping so many families.”
Joe and Carolyn Schauble, of Spokane, gave $100 “in memory of our parents, Carl and Edna Magee and Robert and Mary Schauble.”
Cleve and Brit Pemberly, of Spokane, gave $100 “in memory of Ingebright Eidson, Adeline Pemberthy and Jimmy Sevenich.”
Mary Murphy, of Spokane, gave $100, writing, “Instead of exchanging Christmas gifts my friend Laurie Connolly and I give to a charity of our choice. This year I picked the Christmas bureau.”
Other Spokane donors giving $100 include Peter and Mary Weller, Florence Samels, Les Hunt, Patt Earley and Ken Yuhasz, Maren and Donna Kuest, and an anonymous Spokane donor who gave “in memory of my mother, no matter how tough times were for us, she was our rock!”
Helen Marksbury, of Spokane, gave $100 in memory of her husband Bob.
Ann Foss, of Spokane, gave $100 “in memory of our recently departed, wonderful friends: Ida Mark and Fay Johnstone. They would heartily approve of this donation as they geared their lives helping others.”
Joan Williams, of Spokane, gave $100 “in memory of my dear husband Roy Anderson, who loved seeing the children happy. God bless you for doing this,” she wrote. “Love to you and all the volunteers.”
The Fab Five, of Spokane, gave $100. “We are a group of friends that have grown up together, so much so that we feel like family and have shared many a Christmastime together,” they wrote, noting they talked about the Christmas Bureau at their Christmas gathering this year and decided to donate in memory of Christmases past. “We hope this will help the bureau bring joy this Christmas to others.”
Joe, Joseph and Cobi Guerrinha, of Spokane Valley, gave $100, writing, “We are blessed to be able to help.”
Patsy Opsal, of Spokane Valley, gave $100, writing, “as our family celebrates Christmas this year please accept this as a thank you for all we have been blessed with!”
Spokane Valley donors giving $100 were Richard Morris, and Jim and Barb Johnson, who gave in memory of Barb’s brother Ron and Jim’s mom Jean. “Thanks for all you do,” they wrote.
Robert Martin, of Veradale, gave $100, as did a retired Spokesman-Review employee.
Steve Pollo, of Lansing, Mich., gave $96.80 via PayPal. “As a blind person who moved to Spokane to work at Kaiser-Mead, I was impressed by the friendly, welcoming people,” he wrote. “I hope this gift makes this Christmas season a bit more joyful for those in need.”
Richard and Lorraine Wilson, of Newport, Wash., gave $96.80 via PayPal, writing, “Spread the JOY!”
Dan and Judy Thomas, of Nine Mile Falls, gave $91, writing, “hope this small amount helps you help others.”
St. Mary’s Pinochle Group, of Spokane Valley, gave $76.
Karen Vandervert, of Spokane, gave $75, writing, “Thank you for all you do for so many. Blessings on your day.”
Rabbi Michael Goldstein gave $54 “in honor of three wonderful co-workers, Sharon Beltz, Gail Oshry and John Moore, and in lieu of gifts. Although I do not celebrate Christmas and am not a Christian, your work brings joy and relief to so many in our Spokane community who are struggling.”
Michael Hughes, of Spokane Valley, gave $52.
An anonymous Coeur d’Alene donor gave $50, writing, “Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this fine cause at this time of year.”
Spokane donors giving $50 include the Rettenmund family, Jane Cunningham, John M. and Alexis Chasse, Earl and Marilyn Elias, Jody Leifer, Jeffrey and Robin Johnson, John and Sharon Hopper, four anonymous donors, and H.E.W., who wrote, “just sign my donation from two angels who helped me to still be kicking! Thank you for all the help so many people can have some ‘good feelings.’ ”
Shirley K. Miller and Dan Felgar, of Spokane, gave $50 “in memory of my life partner who passed away October 22. We love this charity!”
Other Spokane donors giving $50 include James and Helen McIndoe, Kate and Jim Jones, James Bosshardt, and Wanda Freese and Freese Builders.
Spokane Valley donors giving $50 were Diane Boyd and Lois Hunter, and Gary and Cheryl Allen.
Mike Rasmussen, of Spokane, gave $40, as did Curt and Jamie Sather.
Gary and Jan Huguenin, of Spokane, gave $35.
Harry and Bonnie Larrison, of Spokane, gave $30 “in loving memory of Levi and Tiffani.”
The Roszells, of Spokane, gave $30.
Spokane donors giving $25 were William and Deanna Schneider, Gail Kiser, Nanci and Andrew Slipper, Julie and Mark Nevdahl, and two anonymous donors.
Pearl and Gerald Hansen, of Spokane Valley, gave $25 “for the good work you do at the Christmas bureau. I only wish it could be more. God bless!”
M.L. and C.P. Anderson, of Spokane Valley, gave $25.
Gavin La Rowe, of Bloomington, Ind., gave $23.97 via PayPal.
Robert Green, of Spokane, gave $23.97 via PayPal “for a child in need.”
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $21, and four anonymous donors gave $20.
Jim and Robbie Elder, of Spokane, gave $20.
Roland Smith, of Spokane, gave $19.12 via PayPal.