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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Couple make volunteering at bureau ‘our Christmas pretty much’

For more than a decade Glen and Barbara Shaw have centered their Christmas season on charity, the sound of happy “Thank you’s” filling their hearts as they help needy families pick out and bag presents at the Christmas Bureau.

“It’s our Christmas pretty much. This is the way we celebrate,” said Glen. “I think we’re in the most fun place to work.”

The couple volunteer at the Christmas Bureau, which provides gifts, books and food vouchers so needy families have hope for a happy holiday, thanks to reader donations.

This year it aims to raise $525,000. Only 4 percent of those funds go to overhead because about 400 volunteers like the Shaws keep costs low so the bulk of donations can go directly to purchase the toys, books and vouchers.

“The money goes for a very good purpose. There’s no waste. The Spokesman-Review, Catholic Charities and Volunteers of America work together and get a big bang for the buck,” said Glen Shaw of the charity’s organizers, adding, “There’s a ton of good will generated. Spokane isn’t just very good at this. We’re great at this. For the number of people we serve, the city and county should be proud.”

Last year the Christmas Bureau provided presents for 15,266 children, which families select themselves in the toy room after choosing a book for each child through age 14 and receiving a $15 to $30 food voucher to buy the fixings for a holiday dinner.

Barbara works in the toy room, helping low-income families pick out the perfect presents for their children while Glen supervises the bagging area, ensuring all the gifts are well-hidden in black bags and each recipient leaves with a smile, a kind word and help to the car if needed.

“It’s hard for some people to be there, to ask for help but we try to make them feel at home, comfortable,” said Barbara Shaw. “It’s fun trying to bring some joy into people’s lives.”

For Glen, working in the bagging area is fun because he gets to interact with the recipients and experience the joy they feel having picked out presents for their kids.

“Some have been there for several hours and then they’re finally done. The people have waited in line, gone through registration, gotten books, gone through the toy room. When they come out of the toy room we bag up the toys, so we’re their last stop,” he said. “They’re so happy. They’re so thankful, thanking us for doing this and spending our time. It feels good to do it.”

“It gives a lot of people Christmas. It’s more than just the fact that they get some things for their kids. It’s the feeling that we’re a community and we’re able to help out other people,” he continued. “Isn’t that what Christmas should be about?”

New donations

The Christmas Bureau has raised less than 10 percent of the amount needed this season. Donations of any amount are welcome.

Terry and Kathryn Deno, of Spokane, gave $880.

William Stanley, of Spokane, gave $193.90 via PayPal.

An anonymous Spokane donor gave $100, writing, “To all those affiliated with the Christmas fund: givers and receivers alike, God bless you, love you, keep you … at Christmastime and always.”

Deborah Walter, of Spokane, gave $50.

Cynthia Stufflebeam, of Spokane Valley, gave $23.97 via PayPal.

Judith Horton, of Coeur d’Alene, gave another monthly gift of $5.

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