Tomorrow, families can kick off Christmas break with a mirthful show while helping less-fortunate families have a happy holiday.
Improv Comedy at the Lake, which moved to Ignite Community Theatre in Spokane Valley last summer, is holding two family-friendly performances Saturday at 7 and 9 p.m.
The cost is a monetary donation to the Christmas Bureau, which provides books, toys and $15 to $30 food vouchers so about 10,000 needy families have a happier holiday.
The charity is funded by donations from the community and still needs to raise almost $118,000 to pay for the gifts given this season. Today is the bureau’s last day.
“It’s Christmas time. We’re doing a Christmas show. We wanted to do a charity benefit show,” said Stephen Holcomb, one of the actors who’ll be improvising scenes and comedic games based on audience suggestions.
“We picked the Christmas Bureau because it helps so many and it’s a good charity to support,” he said, promising that no two shows are the same but they always have enough clean comedy and physical humor for kids as young as 4 or 5 to have fun over 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
“They run around spouting the lines they’ve heard,” he said, adding, “and your grandma of 90 won’t blush.”
The nonprofit, volunteer comedy troupe performs monthly, with admission usually $5 to benefit Ignite Community Theatre.
Concession sales Saturday will still benefit the theater, but all donations at the door are destined for the Christmas Bureau, which gives about 16,000 needy children like Jalen Henning, 11, something nice to open on Christmas morning.
Henning’s mother, Amber Sanders, came to the bureau this week because her part-time job delivering pizza only pays about $550 each month. She’s going to school full-time to become a certified medical assistant and receives financial aid, but she only has a few hundred dollars each quarter to use toward living expenses after paying tuition and buying books.
“I was working any job I could … I got tired of working for minimum wage,” she said of going back to school. “I just aced my finals,” she added.
But until she is qualified for a job that pays better, Sanders said, she’s grateful the Christmas Bureau makes sure her son has a nice present to open on Christmas morning.
“It would be a bit dimmer without it,” she said. “Without it a lot of kids wouldn’t have anything to open.”
The Jacqueline Stone Charitable Trust donated $4,000.
Thomas Haugh, of Newman Lake, gave $1,941.70 via PayPal.
Kawaljit Khahera, of Spokane, gave $291 via PayPal.
Donald and Lorraine Burghard, of Moses Lake, gave $200 in memory of their daughter Vicki Burghard.
Spokane donors giving $200 were Arlen and Charleene Ristuben, Brian and Mary Smith, the Sacred Heart Medical Center medical staff, C. Carey, Kathryn Urbanek, Larry and Barbara Tobin, Marvin and Helen Soehren, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Gagliardi and D.E. and Jean Giovanazz.
Terren Roloff and Brad, Jon, Chris and Owen Ennis gave $200, writing, “Thank you for continuing this great service.”
Jeff and Theresa Utesch, of Veradale, gave $200.
An anonymous Otis Orchards donor gave $150; “Dear amazing volunteers and all those involved in the Christmas Fund. You are all in my prayers! Every year I pray that you make your goal. So this year I am thankful that I can participate,” she wrote. “As a Catholic I am called to help those in need and feel especially blessed this year as I am in the process of adopting a ninth child, a foster son. God bless all of you!”
Spokane donors giving $150 include Gary Dillon and two anonymous donors, one who gave “in memory of my mother and two brothers.”
Bonnie Nelson, of Spokane, gave $150, writing, “Your fund always makes me think of my mother, Alta Yates, who bought over 50 gifts, most from the dollar store because she thought no one should be forgotten at Christmas. Thank you for making this happen every year.”
Keli Tran, of Spokane, gave $150 in loving memory of her husband, Tri Tran.
Ken and Nancy Vorhees, of Spokane, gave $150, writing, “Thank you for all the wonderful work done by the bureau volunteers to make sure everyone in the Spokane area has a smile this Christmas.”
Sue DeFoe, of Spokane, gave $150 in memory of her husband, Dave DeFoe.
Merle and Dolores Gilmore, of Spokane Valley, gave $150.
Spokane donors giving $125 were Julie and Jeff Morris, Rose Lemberger, and an anonymous donor.
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Yoke, of Colbert, gave $100. “With 19 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren of our own we have a special place in our hearts for little ones, especially the ones whose parents are struggling,” they wrote. “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”
John Guest, of Greenacres, gave $100 in memory of his wife, Christine. “Hope we make our goal.”
Albert Pistorius, of Hayden Lake, gave $100.
Paddy and Teri Inman, of Mead, gave $100, writing, “How could anyone resist donating to such a wonderful cause; especially after reading Jill Barville’s excellent, heartfelt accounts every day in the newspaper!”
Patrick and Laurie Ferrell, of Mead, gave $100 in loving memory of Eileen Ferrell.
Ty and Diane Wick, of Mead, gave $100, as did Jerry Anderson, of Medical Lake; Tom and Virginia Henderson, of Reardan; and Garald Gesinger, of Nine Mile Falls.
Diana Flory, of Otis Orchards, gave $100, as did an anonymous donor, Randy Foiles, and Leo and Geraldine Walsh, who wrote, “We are so blessed with a roof over our head and plenty of food.”
Spokane donors giving $100 include Joyce and Wendell Schutt III, four anonymous donors, Joyce and Jerry Fielding, James and Lisa Northcott, James and Beverly Johnson, Pat and Dee Cerutti, Robert Breidenbach, and Carl and Delen Christian, who gave “in loving memory of Gramps and Grandma.”
The Retired Public Employees Council of Washington gave $100. Each year their Christmas party includes a silent auction of items donated by members, with proceeds donated to several charities. The Christmas Bureau was among them. “Thank you for the work you do to help people in need!” they wrote.
Claudia Kirkebo, of Spokane, gave $100, writing, “wish I could give more, but there are so many charities needing gifts this time of year. Thank you for helping our Spokane families have a better Christmas.”
Debbie Reinbold, of Spokane, gave $100. “As a bureau volunteer I see firsthand how very much the bureau is needed and appreciated,” she wrote. “Thank you for keeping it going.”
Mary and Bob Morgan, of Spokane, gave $100 in honor of their seven grandchildren and the 400 volunteers “who help make this a blessed Christmas for so many.”
Michael and Melinda Hirst, of Spokane, gave $100 “in memory of our mom, Ella May Bafus, who recently passed at the age of 97,” they wrote. “She loved Christmas and being able to get together with her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and recently, great-great-grandchild. Family was everything to Ella and Ella was everything to her family. ‘Treasure your family while you can.’ ”
Other Spokane donors giving $100 were Shirley Birchak, Susan Hales and L. Luton, the Comes Family and Bob G., who wrote, “say thanks to Bill W.”
Spokane Valley donors giving $100 include Jack and Doris Primmer, Michael Pearson, Myrna and Gary Schimmels and two anonymous donors, one who gave in memory of Vera Actor.
Robert and Maureen O’Brien, of Spokane Valley, gave $100 in memory of Jeffrey.
Rosemary Twomey, of Wilmington, Del., gave $100, as did Pittman Chiropractic Clinic.
Carol Motschenbacher, of Greenacres, gave $96.80 via PayPal, as did Brian Reed, of Spokane.
Mike, Chris and Patrick Carbery, of Spokane, gave $75 “in loving memory of the Ladish and Carbery family members who are no longer with us.”
R. Harber, of Newman Lake, gave $70.
Catherine Lundberg, of Spokane, gave $60, writing, “to all who make this wonderful event happen every year and to all who receive these blessings.”
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $58.
The McMackens, of Coeur d’Alene, gave $50 in memory of Roger and Ethel McMacken.
Janice Holcomb, of Mead, gave $50, writing, “this is from my twin grandsons, Caleb and Nathan, so other children can have the kind of Christmas they will be blessed to enjoy.”
An anonymous donor from Meadowglen, Conn., sent $50.
Spokane donors giving $50 were Betty Jo Devary, Esther Westtund, John and Maxine Schulte, Meryl and Marylin Bauer, Richard and Judy Gammon and four anonymous donors, one who gave in memory of Don Kelly.
Spokane Valley donors giving $50 were Allan Hastings, an anonymous donor, Roger and Pat French and Jill Beth, who wrote, “Thanks to the bureau once again. You are wonderful. We pray every child will have a gift.”
Lydia Vila, of Lake Forest Park, gave $48.25 via PayPal “on behalf of the Vila, Hatch and H.”
Christy Scammell, of Spokane, gave $48.25 via PayPal.
Marriah-Lane Patterson, from Riemerling, Germany, gave $47.75 via PayPal.
Douglas and Jane Savadalena, of Spokane Valley, gave $40.
Mary Lou Downhour, of Spokane, gave $35.
LaiLai Garden, in Airway Heights, gave $30.
Ann Carey and Patty Rabel, of Spokane, gave $30, their 15th donation to the Christmas Fund in memory of their dad, Ken Rabel.
An anonymous Coeur d’Alene donor gave $25.
Liberty Lake donors giving $25 were Marilyn and Robert Keen, Mary Ellen and Charles Steen, and an anonymous donor.
Spokane donors giving $25 include Sandra Dickey, Susan Schwarz, William and Judy Anderson, Jean Brennan Carmichael, an anonymous donor who gave in memory of Marleigh Clarke, and Margot Wilson, who gave in memory of her husband who passed away seven years ago Dec. 24.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $20.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $15, writing, “Thank you for all your work.”
An anonymous Cheney donor gave $10.