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Giving to Christmas Bureau blows past goal to ‘unbelievably fabulous’ record

Christmas Fund donors surpassed themselves. Fundraising for the Christmas Bureau lagged in the first two and a half weeks, but a surge of holiday giving pushed it beyond the $525,000 needed to pay for the books, toys and food vouchers distributed to needy families this season. Far beyond.

When this year’s fundraising efforts stopped on Monday, more than 1,700 donors had given a total of $582,402.44, setting a Christmas Bureau record. The next-closest year was in 2007, on the eve of the recession, when the community donated $566,343.

“We were panicked for a while. To have it come through at the end like that was unbelievably fabulous,” said Marilee Roloff, executive director for Volunteers of America, which organizes the bureau in partnership with Catholic Charities and The Spokesman-Review.

This year, thanks to generous donors and the efforts of over 400 volunteers, the charity served more than 30,000 people, 15,266 of them children. Those people belonged to 9,218 households that reported an average monthly income of $1,168.

“People understand the reality of poverty better. They have a better sense of what it is to be poor,” Catholic Charities Executive Director Rob McCann said of the surge in donations. “Thanks to their generosity we’re able to pay our bills for this year and we’re able to start shopping for toys for next year.”

That community compassion has fueled the Christmas Bureau since its inception in 1945. To date the Spokane community has contributed more than $14.4 million to ensure needy families have a gift for each child on Christmas morning.

Not only did the community support the charity once again, but 159 more donors contributed in 2013 than in 2012.

McCann said he hopes this is a sign of better times.

“Maybe people are a little more able to consider helping someone else at Christmas time,” he said, adding, “It proves the community comes through. You gotta have faith.”

New Donations

ACME Concrete donated $6,000.

The owners and employees of Huppin’s Hi-Fi, Photo & Video and gave 11 checks totaling $3,328 “to help make this holiday season a bit brighter for all of us,” wrote President Murray Huppin. “Our most sincere thank you to The Spokesman-Review for sponsoring this drive. By providing the framework for recipients, donors and volunteers to come together, the newspaper truly helps us all build a better community. We are privileged to participate.”

Doug Lydig, Russ Lydig, Sharon Urlacher and families gave $3,000, in honor of their mom, Janet Lydig, who died in May. They’re carrying on her donation tradition, which she began in 1986, in memory of her own mother, Virginia Lombard. “Mom gave anonymously to the Christmas Fund for 27 years. It was not her intent to be recognized for her contribution. She valued the Christmas Fund, believed in its goals and knew that she was helping others. It’s our privilege to carry on her tradition of compassion and generosity. Thank you for all you do for our community,” they wrote.

NAI Black gave $3,000. “Thank you for providing a joyful Christmas for many families in our community,” wrote President Jeff Johnson.

David Martin, of Seattle, gave $2,427.20 via PayPal, writing, “The Summit Capital team is proud to support such a great cause for the community.”

Ian and Kelly Scott, of Spokane, gave $1,500. “It is wonderful to see the generosity of the Spokane community. We are blessed to be able to help this wonderful fund,” they wrote.

The teachers and staff of University High School gave 10 checks and $175 in cash, totaling $1,150, to share with the needy in the Spokane area. “In what has become an annual tradition, the teachers and staff of University High School have dedicated themselves to helping those less fortunate during the holiday season. We are proud to show our spirit as Titans,” they wrote. “We commend your efforts and we wish you the best in reaching this year’s goal.”

Americus Financial Group LLC, in Spokane, donated an amount they requested not be disclosed. .

Charm and Frank Stanek, of Spokane, gave $1,000, as did Keith and Jane Slater, Mark and Susan Olson, and Vickerman and Driscoll.

Duane and Cristene Justus, of Hauser, gave $970.70 via PayPal in memory of their parents: Roland ‘Curly’ Justus, Thomas A. Smith and Delvera Smith. “Merry Christmas to all!” they wrote.

Thomas Hammer Coffee Roasters customers and employees gave $970.70 via PayPal.

Hailey Poutiatine, of Spokane, gave $901 – $300 in checks and $601 in cash – raised at her annual Christmas Eve benefit concert. In the card signed Sally, Mike and Hailey Poutiatine and family and friends, they wrote, “Thank you so much for all you do to make Christmas a little brighter for so many families in Spokane!”

Frank and Rosemary Otto, of Spokane, gave $500, as did two anonymous donors.

Mary and Larry Soehren, of Spokane, gave $500. “Thank you to all of the people, agencies and companies that make the Christmas Bureau a reality each year. Your efforts are truly a gift to our community,” they wrote.

The Montessori students of Balboa Elementary gave $500, raised during their annual walk-a-thon. “Merry Christmas, everyone,” they wrote.

Patricia MacNeill, of Spokane Valley, gave $500.

Mr. and Mrs. Donald Ladd, of Spokane, gave $325 “in memory of our son and his wife, who died a month apart this past summer. Keep on doing all the good work.”

Lance and Karrie Kalhar, of Mead, gave $300.

Marilee Dinneen, of Spokane, gave $300, as did Anne and Steven Katsaris, who wrote, “Thanks to all who do so much to make this season brighter for so many in our community.”

The Commellini Estate Inc. sent $250.

Air Force Lt. Col. Matt Lyons and Keirsten Lyons, of Spokane, gave $250 in loving memory of their mom, Dolores Lyons. “Thanks for all you do to help the people of this great town, our ‘adopted hometown,’ ” they wrote.

Ryan Wholesale, of Spokane, gave $250.

Scott and Sarah Creighton, of Spokane Valley, gave $250.

Rock and Martha Ray, of Veradale, gave $250 “in memory of a wonderful man, my dad, Lewis Tibbals, who passed away this year.”

The MAE program at PSHMC/GU sent $250.

The Higel family, of Spokane, gave $242.45 via PayPal.

Neal and Joann Skaufel, of Spokane, gave $235.

An anonymous Spokane donor gave $213.

Two anonymous Spokane donors gave $200, one writing, “Thank you for helping our less fortunate families in our area. Keep up the great work.”

Spokane donors giving $200 include H.T. Van Cleef, Linda Martin, and Cynthia and Mercedes Tate, who wrote, “Thank you for the most perfect way to honor the birth of Jesus – a way to give gifts to little children!”

Robert Clark, of Spokane Valley, gave $200.

Men Goats Hauling and Recycling gave $200. “You guys are such role models for all charities during the holidays and your volunteers are priceless,” they wrote.

David and Jennifer McCabe, of Greenacres, gave $193.90 via PayPal “in honor of our grandparents, Veda Nave, Mr. and Mrs. Charles McCabe and Mr. and Mrs. Chester Palmer. Merry Christmas!”

Al and Beryle Thomas, of Spokane, gave $150, writing, “glad to donate to help those in need.”

Craig Thielman, of Spokane, gave $150 “in memory of Vince Tayon and his gift of music. May the holiday spirit live on in 2014 in all of us.”

John and Kay Feirich, of Spokane, gave $150. “Thank you for your wonderful work. We have worked with the Christmas Bureau and Toys for Tots for many years in the past and you certainly deserve many thank you’s.”

An anonymous Spokane donor gave $130.11 in coins and cash.

An anonymous donor from Honolulu gave $100 “in memory of Charles and Opal McCoy.”

The Riddle family, of Mead, gave $100.

Spokane donors giving $100 include Han Chung Meng, Grand Corner Dental, Janet and Vincent Monaco, Joan Hathaway and Terrie Buchanan, John Miller and Sandra Nolting, Barry Chapman and Jessie Norris, and seven anonymous donors, one who gave in memory of Loretta, and one who wrote, “Thank you for the good work and joy you spread to families in need.”

Beverly Austin, of Spokane, gave $100 in honor of Jan Cunningham.

Dick and Lola (Houx) Lile, of Spokane, gave $100 in memory of Robert and Ellen Houx, writing, “Thank you again for all the work you do to bring joy to the people in Spokane.”

The Don Harding Family, of Spokane, gave $100 “for the good work you do in memory of our parents.”

Gini Thomson, of Spokane, gave $100. “Thanks for your remarkable service to the people of Spokane. We all owe you continuing gratitude,” she wrote. “With continued thanks to Pennie O. at Touchmark.”

Other Spokane donors giving $100 include Judith and Nobel Hundley, Keith and Caroline Lamotte, Mary Ann and Charlie Catchpole, Micahel and Carol Lynn Nissley, Ralph and Catherine Coston, Knox Presbyterian Church Ruth Circle, Robert Gregson, Sharyll and Larry Messinger, Wade and Kathleen, and Mick and Lyn Soss, who gave in memory of Donna Hanson and Nancy Gillespie.

Jennifer Calvert, of Spokane Valley, gave $100, as did Wayne and Patti Hibdon.

Gary and Leanne Brosius, of Veradale, gave $100.

Dave & Robin Cole, of Carnation, gave $96.80 via PayPal.

D. Gerald Searfoss, of Spokane, gave $96.80 via PayPal, as did David Howe, and the Itron Marketing Department.

Jesse Zumbro, of Spokane, gave $90.

The Slater boys: Conner, Buddy, Parker and Jack, of Spokane, gave $80.

Erlinda Fry, of Spokane, gave $75, writing, “Merry Christmas to all the volunteers and thank you for doing this charity for the needy families. God bless.”

The Kosteleckys, of Spokane, gave $75. “As a gift to my sisters who have December birthdays, rather than gifts we would like to make a donation to the bureau in their honor. Happy birthday Carol and Holly,” they wrote. “Love you, Joe & Lenny.”

Candace Murray, of Spokane, gave $60.

Ronald Hedrick, of Spokane, gave $57.96 via PayPal.

Tara Back, of Spokane Valley, gave $53.10 via PayPal.

An anonymous Cheney donor gave $50 in memory of Francis Risdon.

An anonymous Mead donor gave $50, as did Pat and Debbie Buckley, of Newport.

Spokane donors giving $50 include Bill and Marilyn Thordarson, Denise and Jim Davies, James Caddis, two anonymous donors and Derek Austin, who gave in honor of Jan Cunningham.

Jackie Reason and Mark Savelesky, of Spokane, gave $50 in memory of Doris and Jack Linden.

Jim and Gerrie Walsh, of Spokane, gave $50 “in honor of our grandson, Dominic, who is in service for our country with the Marines.”

The Jan Gilliam family, of Spokane, gave $50 “in appreciation of all the volunteers.”

An anonymous Spokane Valley donor gave $50, as did Andrew Collins, of Vernon, Conn.

Earl Sullivan, of Seattle, gave $48.25 via PayPal “in honor of G&G.”

Mary Lively, of Spokane, gave $48.25 via PayPal. “Thank you for the amazing work you do. I am grateful that you can make the best use of our gifts,” she wrote. “Best wishes to all people involved!”

Susan Watson-Persyn, of Priest River, Idaho, gave $43 in memory of her son, Auzzie Watson, who died at age 4. “He loved to give his toys for others to play with. Thank you for doing the same for others,” she wrote.

Michael and Maddie Zorich, of Spokane, gave $40, as did an anonymous donor.

Ed Winkey and L.M. Sunde, of Spangle, gave $30.

Kris Rose, of Seattle, gave $28.83 via PayPal.

Spokane donors giving $25 were Preston and Carolyn Smith, an anonymous donor, and William and Mary Lou Safranek.

Ed Pierson, of Moscow, Idaho, gave $20 in memory of his parents and brother, Harold Hilday Roy, “to help brighten the Christmas through a gift or voucher to some needy family this holiday season.”

Kenneth Duncan, of Spokane, gave $20, as did an anonymous donor.

Betty Adams, of Spokane, gave $15.

Mike Kraft, of Spokane, gave $10 “in memory of his parents Gene and Julie and his brother, Fr. Tom, a Dominican priest who worked for God’s people in Mexicali, BC, Gonzaga and Newman Centers, from Seattle to Salt Lake and Tempe, Arizona.”

An anonymous Spokane donor gave $5.