The Christmas Bureau was organized chaos Wednesday as volunteers gathered to unload trucks full of toys and set up the Bureau for another year to serve those in need at the Spokane County Fairgrounds.
Every time a truck pulled up, volunteers swarmed it. They unloaded toys of all types, tables, folding chairs, supplies for the child care area and more. Supervisors with clipboards kept things organized as toys were stacked in piles taller than most people.
Just like every other year in the past decade, a group of Freeman High School students were there to help. National Honor Society club members are required to perform community service and many choose to come to the Christmas Bureau.
Shayna Nickerson, a senior, was helping bag donated pajamas and label each bag with the size. She first came to the Bureau last year to gain community service hours, but said she liked it so much she could barely wait to come back.
“I love it,” she said. “It’s so much fun. It’s a blast to come out and help.”
Nickerson spent her morning helping out wherever she saw a need. “I just want to help and be out here,” she said.
Club adviser Pia Longinotti brought a group of nearly 20 students this year. “It’s such a nice way to get involved in Christmas,” she said. “They’re always really excited.”
It’s a tradition for Freeman students to volunteer on the first day of set up. This year, Bureau organizers wanted to recognize the group in a special way after a shooting at the high school earlier this fall. After the attack the words “Freeman Strong” appeared on T-shirts and signs as a show of community support, so the Bureau organizers created a “Freeman Strong” sign to hang in the toy storage area.
“It’s great,” Longinotti said of the sign. “This has been a rough year for our school. I think it’s nice for the kids to see how much the community cares for them.”
As volunteers prepare to open the Bureau on Friday, incoming donations become even more important. New donations of $17,727 have put the year to date total to $133,846.86. The fundraising goal is $525,000.
Jonathan and Bridget Lemberg, of Spokane, sent a donation of $2,000. Virginia and Dr. Mike Berg, of Spokane, donated $1,000, writing “Thank you for doing such a great job every year.”
Anonymous Spokane residents sent donations of $800, $700, $500 and $500. Harold and Sharon Cathcart, of Colbert, donated $600.
The Assistants, a volunteer group in Spokane, donated $500. Johnny and Teryl Engleman, of Spokane, sent $500, as did Donald Tuttle, of Spokane. Marcia and Timothy Dorwin, of Spokane Valley, contributed $500, as did Peter and Gay Witherspoon, of Spokane. Gust Abariotes, of Spokane Valley, donated $500. Burma and Richards Williams, of Spokane, also sent $500.
Jim and Debbie Repp, of Spokane Valley, donated $400 in honor of Gloria Repp, who died last month, and 1-year-old Hadley.
Judith Hudson, of Spokane, donated $300 in memory of her husband, Mac Hudson. “The Christmas Bureau starts the Christmas season for me,” she wrote. “It personifies the true meaning of the season.” Bruce and Kathy Bixler, of Spokane, donated $300 in memory of Don Kelly. Two anonymous Spokane residents also contributed $300 each. Fred and Norrine Potts, of Spokane Valley, gave $300.
Tom, Darlene, McKenzie and Tanner Caldwell donated $300 in memory of their loved ones. The David A. DeFoe family donated $250. An anonymous Spokane Valley donor sent a check for $222.
Carolyn and James Craven contributed $200, as did Florence Mikkelsen, of Spokane. Zoe Foltz, of Spokane, donated $200 in memory of John. An anonymous donor sent $200 in memory of Joanne Robinette. Rita and William Vancleve, of Spokane, sent $200, as did Gregory and Diane Wick, of Mead, and John and Sindra Barber, of Spokane.
Timothy and Lindsay Bristow, of Spokane, sent $150, as did an anonymous Spokane Valley donor. Michael Pearson donated $150. Catherine and John Caskey, of Spokane, sent $150. Beth Schomburg, of Spokane, contributed $125.
Cyndi Tobias donated $100 via Pay Pal, as did an anonymous Spokane donor. Bob G. donated $100. Jerry and Rozanne Winters, of Spokane, gave $100. Roy and Joey Schmidt, of Cheney, donated $100. William and Harriet Plucker, of Spokane, contributed $100.
Soroptimist International of Spokane sent $100 along with a note that read: “As Spokane’s oldest women’s nonprofit organization, it is our pleasure to provide continued support to The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund.”
Ellen Ostheller, Richard Kleaveland, Greg Schuster and Philip Murphy, all of Spokane, each donated $100. Cyrus McLean gave $100. Mr. and Mrs. M. Anderson, of Spokane, contributed $100. Sally and Walter Bonsack, of Spokane Valley, gave $100. Cathy Burroughs, of Seattle, donated $100.
Tom and Ruth Conklin, of Spokane Valley, sent $100 with a note that read: “Thank you for all your dedication and hard work in helping the people of Spokane. Please accept this donation to your great cause. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you.”
David and Janice Rorden, of Longview, Washington, donated $100 in memory of longtime Christmas Bureau volunteer Bill Kuch, who died last year. Thomas Caswell, of Spokane, sent $100, as did Jon and Dana Bowne, of Colbert. Edward and Ethel Fisk, of Spokane Valley, contributed $100. Vickie Borer, of Spokane, gave $100.
Michael V. Brown donated $75 via Pay Pal. Mabel Morrison, of Spokane, and Sharon Boyer, of Spokane Valley, donated $75 each. Theresa Schimmels, of Spokane Valley, donated $50 via Pay Pal in honor of her parents, Myrna Schimmels and the late Gary Schimmels Sr.
Shirley McKenney, of Spokane Valley, donated $50 in memory of her husband, Dick McKenney, and her grandson, Nicholas Clason. “God bless your work again this Christmas season,” she wrote. Will and Ginny Terpening, of Spokane, contributed $50.
John Spencer, of Spokane, sent $50 via Pay Pal. Nancy and Steve Kiss, of Metaline, Washington, gave $50, as did an anonymous Spokane donor. Don and Creta Kunz sent $50, as did Steve Reed, of Spokane. Dick and Ann Collins, of Spokane, contributed $50, as did three anonymous donors. Edward and Susan Leach, of Coeur d’Alene, donated $50. Linda Williamson, of Spokane, also sent $50, as did Phil Schumaker, of Spokane.
Dave and Carole Youngman, of Spokane, donated $35. Leila Larson, of Spokane, contributed $30. Randy and Victoria Bunke, of Deer Park, donated $25. Nancy and Andrew Slipper, of Spokane, gave $25. Des and Barb Boucher, of Spokane Valley, donated $25 in memory of Dick McKenney and Nick Clason. Barbara Lawson, of Spokane, gave $25. John and Nora Allen, of Spokane, sent $20, as did an anonymous Spokane donor.
For donations made through PayPal, The Spokesman-Review contributed the processing fee.