The Christmas Bureau opens its doors Wednesday. Volunteers have been stacking toys and sorting stuffed animals from the Spokane Chiefs’ Teddy Bear Toss on Saturday.
“I’m really happy to see your faces,” Catholic Charities Christmas Bureau Coordinator Sierra Heinen said during a break for orientation. “I’m so excited for you to work your first shift. It’s going to change your life.”
Last year, the bureau helped 26,103 people in 7,532 households with food vouchers and toys and books for each child.
“You’re going to touch a lot of souls,” Heinen said.
A trio of organizations puts on the bureau every year. Catholic Charities organizes it, the Volunteers of America handles the book buying and distribution, and The Spokesman-Review collects the donations. Every contribution goes directly to the bureau, and nothing is used for overhead.
Volunteers of America CEO Fawn Schott also welcomed the volunteers.
“This literally is the best time of year,” she said. “We do this because it fills our heart and fills the hearts of our community.”
The bureau gives parents joy and peace of mind that their child will be able to celebrate Christmas, she said.
“You have a chance to normalize Christmas,” she said. “You all make that happen.”
The volunteers learned about everything from safety precautions to where the bathrooms are. They gathered in small groups for last-minute instructions from their section supervisor before grabbing their official volunteer T-shirt and filing out the door, ready to go.
The bureau opens at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Spokane County Fairgrounds.
A surge has brought in $33,380 in new donations toward the goal of $525,000, bringing the year-to-date total to $170,354.13. This year’s fund has done some catching up since last week, but donations are still down from the $186,659.95 collected by this date last year.
Geraldine Fait, a longtime donor and volunteer at the Christmas Bureau, gave $10,000.
Ronald Schoenberger, of Spokane, donated $5,000. “Shirley Schoenberger loved Christmas and appreciated all the work and talents of the many volunteers making this a very special Christmas for many of our citizens,” he wrote. “For over 32 years the Schoenberger family has contributed to the Christmas Bureau’s fund. This year in memory of Shirley Schoenberger we are enclosing our contribution in the amount of $5,000 so others may enjoy this special season.”
Rial and Don Moulton, of Spokane Valley, gave $5,000. “At this special time of year, and especially for our precious little ones, we are so happy to once again help with such a worthy cause,” they wrote. “For our wonderful clients, and in memory of our very special mother, Rial, Don and everyone at the Moulton Financial Center hopes this small token of our gratitude for all God’s gifts helps others better enjoy the holidays. Merry Christmas!”
Michael Altringer, of Spokane, donated $2,000.
John and Terry Engleman, of Spokane, donated $500, as did Bryce and Cheryl Backus, of Spokane Valley. Melody and Barry Miller, of Deer Park, sent $500, as did an anonymous Spokane donor. Mike Mikos, of Spokane Valley, gave $500. MMEC Architecture and Interiors, of Spokane, donated $500.
The Jones family, of Spokane Valley, contributed $500 in honor of Robert, Evelyn and Marybell. An anonymous Spokane donor gave $500. Burma and Rick Williams, of Spokane, donated $500. “The Christmas Fund is a wonderful Spokane tradition,” they wrote. “Thanks to The Spokesman-Review, the charitable agencies, all the fantastic volunteers, and others who make this possible.”
Marian Cummings, of Spokane, contributed $400. Peter and Mary Lou Bach, of Spokane, gave $400. “This donation is given in memory of Dr. LeRoy Byrd who gave so much of himself to the House of Charity,” they wrote. “We wish to share some of our blessings.”
Ralph and Deb Prouty, of Spokane, gave $300. An anonymous Deer Park donor gave $300. Dennis and Patricia Doyle, of Spokane, donated $300. “Thank you for all you do,” they wrote. “God bless.” Rich Funge and Margaret Farris, of Mead, contributed $300, as did Orval and Anita Janssen, of Spokane.
Linda Grandfield Conrad donated $250 in memory of Don Grandfield. Burton Pendleton, of Spokane, gave $250. Nancy Edwards, of Spokane, donated $250.
Lynda Ensign and Ken Gerard, of Spokane, donated $200. E.A. Thorpe, of Spokane, contributed $200, as did Stevan and Beverly Booras, of Spokane. Rhonda Krause, of Spokane, gave $200. “I contribute because I can,” she wrote. “I have never had to stand in line for up to four hours to get a $20 food voucher.”
An anonymous Spokane donor gave $150. Shirley Schatz, of Spokane, gave $125 “in honor of my husband Gene and daughter Karen.”
Longtime Christmas Bureau volunteer Janet Culbertson donated $100. “In memory of my father, Don T. Culbertson, and fellow volunteer Cande Webb-Krall,” she wrote. “A fond farewell to recently retired volunteer Mick Soss. Every penny counts! Please help by donating.”
Beverly Hayes, of Nine Mile Falls, sent $100. “Donating in memory of my niece, Linda Boardman, who passed this year,” she wrote. “She loved Christmas.” Elaine Shawn, of Spokane Valley, gave $100, as did Shirley and Albert Reisig, of Spokane. Beth and Steve Kenney, of Spokane Valley, donated $100.
Karen Merritt, of Spokane, donated $100 “in memory of my husband, D.J. Merritt, who made sure we donated every year in order to help others have a better Christmas.” Leona and Harold Dexter, of Spokane, gave $100. “Once again our thanks to those who serve and all those involved in this effort,” they wrote.
Steven and Diane Zemke, of Spokane, sent $100, as did Barry Benoit, of Hauser. John and Rosie Olson, of Colbert, gave $100. “Thanks to all who volunteer for this wonderful cause,” they wrote. Janet Miller, of Spokane, gave $100, as did Pam and Randy of Spokane.
Judith Boyer donated $100. “May everyone have a Merry Christmas and thank you to the volunteers,” she wrote. Sharon Boyer, of Spokane Valley, gave $100. Beth Schomburg, of Spokane, sent $100. “In memory of my mother, Shirley Ryan, who passed away earlier this year,” she wrote. “Merry Christmas to all.”
Al and Vicki Falkner, of Spokane, contributed $100. “Thank you for all of the great work that you do!” they wrote. “May God bless you.” Alison and Scott Barratt, of Spokane, donated $100 in memory of Andy Collins. Larry and Janice Sieg, of Moses Lake, gave $100. “Christmas is for the children, let’s keep them smiling,” they wrote.
An anonymous Spokane Valley donor sent $100, as did Blaine Krebs, of Colbert. Jim and Julie Lehr, of Spokane Valley, gave $100. Jim and Margo Walesby, of Spokane, donated $100.
Barry Newberry, of Spokane, donated $50 and included a note for the volunteers. “Just wanted to take a minute to thank you all for your timeless efforts,” he wrote. “For without you many children would wake up very sad on Christmas morning. When you think of that, it makes your heart hurt. Great job, you are all fantastic people. May all of you have a wonderful holiday.”
Frances Mann, of Liberty Lake, gave $50, as did Phyllis Robison, of Spokane. Charles and Mary Ellen Steen, of Liberty Lake, contributed $50, as did Christy Jeffers, of Spokane. Shirley McKenney, of Spokane, donated $50 in memory of her husband, Dick McKenney, and her grandson, Nick Clason. “Thanks for this wonderful outreach to the community,” she wrote.
Gail Kiser, of Spokane, gave $35. Cheryl Scheideman and Karen Graham, both of Spokane, each contributed $25. Ruby Lyon, of Spokane, donated $25. “Blessings to all who volunteer and to all who receive help from the fund,” she wrote. Mary Kay DiValentino, of Nine Mile Falls, contributed $25. Nancy Agres, of Spokane, gave $20.
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