The Christmas Fund has closed for the year with donations totaling $562,804, exceeding the goal by nearly $68,000. The donations ensure the fund will cover bills for the Christmas Bureau, which provided toys and food vouchers to 9,662 needy families, including 15,601 children. Food vouchers totaled $284,294 this year.
The Christmas Fund is within reach of its goal of $495,000 thanks to generous donations from the community. A donation of $7,652 from Lee & Hayes, PLLC, of Spokane, and $5,720 from Downtown Toyota, Downtown Honda and Downtown Lexus of Spokane brought new donations to $43,814. That puts the fund about $5,000 shy of its goal.
Although the Christmas Bureau closed for the year on Saturday, the work of Catholic Charities and Volunteers of America is not done. After the two-day closure of the bureau during last week’s snows, Catholic Charities and VOA directors decided to issue food vouchers today only at their offices downtown.
A $30,000 donation from Travis Pattern & Foundry Inc. this weekend boosted the Christmas Fund within reach of its goal. “The owners and employees of Travis Pattern and Foundry again wish to donate the funds that we would have spent on a Christmas party to your fund,” wrote president Travis W. Garske. “We hope we can help make Christmas a little brighter for some Spokane families. We wish everyone a wonderful Christmas and a great new year in 2009,” he wrote.
Thousands of community members, including businesses, individuals and families, church groups, and social clubs donate to The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund as part of the effort to provide a brighter Christmas for low-income families. The Christmas Bureau will reopen for its final day today after being closed Thursday and Friday because of weather conditions.
Christmas Bureau volunteer Carmela Conroy gets the prize for coming the longest way to volunteer at the charity. Conroy is visiting her parents in Spokane during a short leave from Kabul, Afghanistan, where she works for the U.S. State Department as a regional refugee coordinator. She also donated $1,500 to the Christmas Fund, which pays for the toys and food vouchers distributed at the bureau. She spent Wednesday volunteering at the bureau with her parents, Bob and Judi Conroy.
Christmas Bureau volunteers say the toys are flying out of the charity at a record pace this year. The numbers show a 21 percent increase from last year through the first four days of operation at the Spokane fairgrounds.
The working poor are expected to represent a large portion of the families who will come today to the Christmas Bureau. This is the second year that the charity, which provides toys and grocery vouchers for the holidays, is open Saturdays to serve those who work during the week. Recognizing the need for extended hours, bureau organizers scheduled two Saturdays in the 10-day schedule. The weekend operation also allows working volunteers to participate in the charity’s efforts.
Donations to the Christmas Fund pay for food vouchers and toys distributed at the Christmas Bureau. Donors have boosted the fund to $183,811 with $38,097 in new donations. Following are the names of the donors and the amounts: