People have been contacting Catholic Charities to express interest in volunteering at this year’s Christmas Bureau, which is scheduled to open on Dec. 8, but there are no longer any volunteer slots available.
“It’s a good problem to have,” said volunteer coordinator Brigid Krause.
The Bureau, which is a joint venture with Catholic Charities, Volunteers of America and The Spokesman-Review, provides food vouchers, toys and books to families who need assistance at Christmas. This year’s Bureau runs from Dec. 8-18 (excluding Sundays) at the Spokane County Fairgrounds.
There are close to 600 volunteers already signed up. Each has to complete a lengthy application and pass a background check before they can be put on the schedule. “It’s quite a vetting process,” Krause said.
Many of those 600 are familiar faces. “We have a lot of repeats,” she said. “This year we have about 25 to 30 new people.”
Every year in October, Krause sends a packet to each regular volunteer that includes the days the Bureau will be open and the jobs available. They send their preferences back and Krause hangs a giant schedule on the wall of her office and writes in each name by hand. There are 110 volunteer spots to be filled each day the Bureau is open.
Those jobs include greeters, toy stockers, people to check clients in and the volunteers to help parents select a new book for their children. Some entire families come to volunteer and some local businesses send large groups of employees to help for half a day or an entire day. Other volunteers are there every day, all day long.
Though no new volunteers are being accepted for this year’s event, those interested in volunteering at the 2018 Christmas Bureau can start the process by visiting www.catholiccharitiesspokane.org/volunteer and filling out an application.
New donations of $8,075 brings the year to date total to $74,912.86. The goal this year is to collect $525,000 for food vouchers, toys and books for families who need help at Christmas.
Gold Seal Mechanical sent a check for $5,000 along with a short letter. “With 50 years of support from the community, our employees and staff are pleased to be able to make this contribution to your great program that helps so many of the less fortunate in our area,” wrote company President Richard Dixon.
Gail and Roberta Keeling, of Otis Orchards, donated $1,000 in honor of their three grandsons; Taylor, Kolby and Ryan. “The holidays are upon us once again and our thoughts go out to those who are in need,” they wrote in a short note.
Bill and Mabel McInerney, of Priest River, Idaho, donated $1,000 in memory of Edward, Lucille and Richard.
Bill Molsberry, of Spokane, and David Larsen each donated $200 via Pay Pal. Amy and Bob Lutz sent $125 via Pay Pal. Dean and Mary Duncan, of Spokane, donated $100, as did Marley and Melanie Reckord, of Spokane. Kurt Felgenhauer sent $100 via Pay Pal. Edward Ellefsen, of Spokane, contributed $100. Donald Bolling, of Spokane, Marcia Downing and Andrew Collins each donated $50 via Pay Pal.
For donations made through PayPal, The Spokesman-Review contributed the processing fee.