The Christmas cleanup is complete, with gifts opened and holiday treats a delicious memory. Last week, as the fundraising for the Christmas Bureau closed and organizers set their sights on the New Year, the charity was still $6,315 shy of its $525,000 goal. Then several more generous donors put it over the top.
“Thank heaven for every single donor. I only wish each one could have experienced the joy we experienced,” said Marilee Roloff, executive director of Volunteers of America, which organizes the bureau with Catholic Charities and The Spokesman-Review.
More than 1,500 donors gave gifts from $3 to $35,000, raising a total of $525,740.27 to provide gifts, books and food vouchers for less-fortunate families.
Because of their generosity and an army of volunteers, this year the bureau served 32,060 people, providing toys for 16,124 children and $15 to $30 food vouchers for 9,877 households.
“People have been so generous during the recession, and we’ve been lucky to keep up with the increasing numbers. I’m hopeful that the lower number of recipients means we’ve turned the corner on the economic situation – that fewer people are in extreme need,” said Roloff.
This year the bureau helped fewer people than anticipated and about 10 percent less than last year, when it served 35,561 people, including 17,321 children.
But those numbers are just part of the Christmas Bureau equation. They don’t convey the stories of hardship and hope, and compassion and gratitude, that blend at the Christmas Bureau.
Each donor, volunteer and recipient has a story. Some of those we shared with readers over the past month, while leaving so many more tales untold.
The recipient whose daughter was diagnosed with cancer in October, making a difficult holiday that much harder.
The donor who grieved her granddaughter by giving. The pregnant recipient who spent months in a shelter after leaving an abusive relationship.
The volunteer who stood in deference every time a recipient approached his table. The donor who gave while remembering the help his young family received at the bureau years ago.
Summed up, the bureau statistics and stories show what a caring community can do when it’s committed to helping neighbors in need. Though fundraising for this season’s Christmas Bureau has concluded, donations are accepted all year and volunteers are already planning and purchasing for the 2013 holiday.
An anonymous donor sent $2,000: “Our community is blessed with the generosity of the many volunteers of the Christmas Bureau. We are extremely fortunate to live in such a great area as the Inland Northwest!” they wrote.
Clarence Colby Memorial Fund gave $2,000.
An “Anonymouse” donor gave $1,200.
Vickerman and Riscoll, of Spokane, gave $1,000.
John and Janet Peterson, of Spokane, gave $600. “We are increasing our gift this year to aid the Bureau’s ability to reach out to more families who may need a helping hand,” they wrote.
Larry and Marsha Hitchcock, of Spokane, gave $500, as did an anonymous donor.
Hailey Poutiatine, age 13, of Spokane Valley, gave $451. “Since I was six, I have sang for my family a few Christmas carols that I’ve taken the time to learn on the guitar,” she wrote. “It is my annual Christmas Eve Benefit concert for the Christmas Fund. This year, I offer you $451 for your cause. $79 of it is what I have saved over the year. Keep up the good work.”
An anonymous donor gave $317.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $300 in honor of their grandkids, Collyn, Alan and Camryn.
Nancy Gillespie, of Spokane, gave $250.
Stanley Black & Decker – Matching Gifts gave $200.
Cori Valley, of Spokane, gave $200 on behalf of Carson and Natalie Valley. An anonymous donor gave $200 in memory of Grandmother Rosella Bemis, “who always had a giving heart.” Brian Brauner gave $193.90. Judith and Lindel Burns gave $150, as did an anonymous donor.
Dennis, Donna and Blair Kelly, of Spokane, gave $150 in honor of longtime Christmas Bureau volunteer Don Kelly.
Amy and Bob Lutz, of Spokane, gave $150.
David Saraceno gave $125.93.
Richard and Melody Podlas, of Mead, gave $100, as did Lorraine and Donald Burghard, of Moses Lake.
Spokane donors giving $100 were N. Mahoney & G. Matthew, Oscar and Lois Thomason, Norma Rosenberger, Steve and Iris Lemberson, John and Kay Feirich, and Mark Switzer, who gave in memory of his father, Robert L. Switzer.
Mark Stinson gave $96.80.
George and Miche Weisbarth, of Newport, gave $75. “Thank you for the wonderful things you do each year for all the people you help,” they wrote.
Mark Johnson, of Nine Mile Falls, gave $50.
Two anonymous donors also gave $50, one writing, “Merry Christmas, Dad!”
Spokane donors giving $50 were Michael and Margaret Dennis, Mary Jane O’Neill, Chris and Ken Brown, and Chris Vandervert and family, who gave in memory of Don Vandervert. “Thank you for all you do for the less fortunate in our community,” they wrote. “This was his favorite time of year.”
James Marshall, of Spokane, gave $50.
An anonymous Veradale donor, gave $50 to honor their loved ones and co-workers “who give so much back to our community.”
Lee Kershner gave $48.25.
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $30.
Spokane donors giving $25 were Lowell Lehman, Karl and Katherine Herstrom, Knox Presbyterian Church, an anonymous donor, and Robert and Irene Johnson, who wrote, “We hope this helps someone have a better Christmas.”
An anonymous donor gave $20.
Loretta Noll gave $19.12.
Judith Horton gave $5.