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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Fund has already helped thousands

More than 2,500 needy families have been given Christmas fixings during the two days that the Christmas Bureau has been open.

The charity provides a new toy and a book for every needy child and food vouchers to buy a holiday dinner for each household. The bureau has given out $72,770 worth of food vouchers and toys to more than 4,300 children.

The Christmas Fund pays for this holiday charity, and the donations to the fund are falling short of the pace needed to pay the bills. Generous donations from throughout the community are needed.

Donations of $6,110 brought the Christmas Fund to $90,557.35.

The Christmas Bureau will remain open Saturdays this year to better serve the working poor.

“We have been open late on Wednesdays during the past few years so people who work can still get to the bureau,” said bureau chairman Mike Reilly. “Our thinking this year was that people might have child care or transportation issues on weeknights, so we thought this might be a better way to reach people.”

The bureau will be open 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. today. The charity reopens on Monday.

One of the busiest areas at the bureau this year is children’s books. Scholastic Inc. donates thousands of books to the Volunteers of America, which distributes 20,000 of them to poor children through the bureau.

“It’s a small thing, but the parents really like them,” said Marilee Roloff, the director of the local VOA. Books are also distributed through a number of community literacy programs throughout the year.

Parents can select one book per child. Many spend a significant amount of time looking through the choices, reading the back covers, thumbing through the pages. Some parents neither read nor speak English, but Roloff said they still seem to want their children to have English-language books.

A few Spanish-language books are available for Spanish-speaking parents to read to their children.

While the books and gift bags given to recipients who live alone are donated items, the Christmas Fund pays for the rest of the gifts, which include a bag of candy for each family as well as the vouchers and toys.

Donations of all amounts are welcome. Donors who want to remain anonymous should indicate their wishes on their donation check or accompanying note. Following are the donors and their donations:

A donation of $1,000 was made, “with all our love, Bailey and Benson on Rockwood Boulevard.” (Yes, they are dogs and they have no last name and they donate every year.)

Ronald and Shirley Schoenberger, of Spokane, sent $660 and a letter: “Twenty years ago we made our first contribution to The Spokesman-Review Christmas fund. Our original contribution was small, but within the range we were comfortable with. With our first contribution we made a commitment to increase our yearly contribution by 10 percent each succeeding year. We are sure the needs of those living in our community have increased and we all hope all other contributors will increase their contributions this year. Let’s not wait until the last minute to make our contributions,” they wrote.

“Your continued generosity and commitment to the citizens of our wonderful community make this a better holiday season for thousands of people who might not otherwise receive a gift,” the Schoenbergers wrote.

Sondra Wildman, of Spokane, donated $500, as did Inland Empire Drywall, also of Spokane. Eugene and Doreen Criswell, of Colbert, sent $500 in the names of their grandchildren, Nicole, Alyssa, Zach and Maisie, “to help enrich the lives of others in this holiday season.”

Helen Mitchel, of Spokane, sent $400.

James Koppa, of Spokane, donated $250, as did Pat and Renae Younker, of Newman Lake; the Sadir Khan Grotto Ladies, and an anonymous donor, all of Spokane. Donald Moore, of Spokane, gave $250 in memory of Billie Moore.

The members of Assistants Inc. sent $250 and a note: “We congratulate all who participate in this holiday community effort. Several of our Assistants members volunteer daily at the Christmas Bureau. On Nov. 15, about two dozen members joined the Catholic Charities efforts and stuffed 2,000 gift bags for single recipients,” Assistants President Connie Howard wrote.

“It is our goal to not only contribute money, but contribute time during this busy season as well,” she continued. “We recognize the tremendous needs within our community and gladly donate in the spirit of helping others during this holiday season. Thank you for allowing us an opportunity to participate and contribute to the Christmas Bureau.”

Gary and Sharon Randall, of Colbert, donated $225 in memory of their parents.

Shirley Ann Walters, of Spokane, sent $200 and a note: “My husband, Marvin C. Walters, always believed in this fund.” Larry and Geri Comstock, of Colbert, also donated $200.

Jim and Linda Hunt, of Spokane, donated $100 in memory of Krista Hunt Ausland.

Howie and Jennifer Stalwick, of Post Falls, gave $100.

Darci and Mason Hiatt, of Spokane Valley, donated $50, as did Diane Veltre, of Spokane, in memory of her brother, Doug White.

Bessie Pope, of Spokane, gave $30.

Curt and Mary Jo Lorenz, of Chattaroy, sent $25, as did an anonymous donor, of Spokane; and Ruth and Mackay Miller, also of Spokane, “in memory of a beloved husband and father, Charlie Miller.”

An anonymous donor, of Spokane, sent $20.

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